February 19, 2010

Cookies for Lent

Don't ask me how cookies can be for Lent, but takes an Italian cook to create something sweet, even when one is supposed to be giving things up. The story goes that these dry cookies were supposed to help you while fasting during lent.

Carnevale- is taken from levare carne- or to take away meat. Martedi Grasso procedes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent- Quaresima, the 40 days before Easter Sunday.

These cookies are only made for the Quaresima and are called Quaresimali.they are a meringue based cookie with cocoa powder and hazelnut paste. In other regions a different cookie will have the same name.

They are quick to make and really not very sweet.

Traditionally you make all the letters of the alphabet. I only wanted enough to test the recipe so could only make a few letters- and chose to write out my name in Italian and that of my husband.

A great cookie anytime of the year for kids to make.

Have fun- and for Lent- try doing something nice instead of giving something up.

The recipe is in grams to be more precise:

200 grams of flour 00 ( about 1 3/4 cups of italian pastry flour)
50 grams cocoa powder
pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder

3 egg whites
200 grams of granulated sugar ( about 1 cup)

50 grams of hazelnut paste ( if you don't have any, finely grind toasted hazelnuts into powder)

Mix the flour, cocoa and the baking powder together in a bowl.

Whip the egg whites, slowly incorporating the sugar, until soft peaks can be formed.
Add the hazelnut paste and stir in.

Add the egg white mixture to the dry ingredients.

Place in a pastry bag with a small tip and pipe out the letters onto a cookie sheet with baking parchment or silpat sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Make your letters allowing for them to spread a tiny bit.


  1. I am loving that the Italians devised a cookie specifically for Lent. the time when everyone in my home traditionally gives up sweets.

  2. Oh yum, I love the idea of a meringue-based cookie with extra ingredients - makes me think the sweetness might be tempered a little bit! Do you need to be careful when folding the egg whites into the dry mix, or can this withstand more vigorous mixing?

  3. hannah- actually it is not sweet at all!
    and can stir it a lot!!!
    adding the sugar to the whites,gives it almost a marshmellow cream consisitency.

  4. Ciao Judy. Did you enjoy Sicilia? Will be there March 6 - 13. Anyway...what distinguishes Italian pastry flour? What would be good substitute here in USofA?


  5. I think I must try these. Thanks, Judy!