Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Bocconotti" - Little Chocolate Treats

These chocolate treats are one of the many specialties of the region of Italy called Abruzzo. We spent a week there, as part of a recent trip to Italy, visiting my husband's relatives who live in a small village near the Adriatic coast.
While there, we feasted each day at pranzo (lunch) and cena (dinner), moving from one cousin's house to another, soaking up the warmth, the hospitality and the good food.
Giovanna, the cousin who is pictured here, cooked up a batch of these cookies the night before we left for us to take back to the U.S. Her culinary skills are well-known among her family and neighbors in Italy. Since returning to the U.S., I've been sharing her bocconotti with friends and relatives here, so her reputation has spread to the U.S. as well.
Giovanna gave me her recipe, which uses lard in the dough, but I have adapted it with butter. She also told me she uses a mixture of liqueurs in the filling -- "Whatever I have in the house," she said.
Feel free to do the same, or focus on one particular flavor. You could use rum, or brandy, or an orange-flavored liqueur, for example. Or do as Giovanna does and combine several.
They keep for a month, she said, as long as they are in a covered tin or container. Even though the recipe makes about four dozen bocconotti, you might have trouble keeping them for that long!


For the dough:

10 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
2/3 cup plus 1 T. sugar
6 egg yolks
3 1/2 cups flour or enough to make a soft dough

Cream butter and sugar in a mixer. Add egg yolks, one at a time, blending well. Add flour and mix until it forms a soft dough. Break off small portions and roll out to the thickness of pie crust. Cut and fit into small metal tart tins.

For the filling:

4 ounces espresso coffee
7 ounces dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 1/3 cups almonds, toasted and finely ground
3/4 cup plus 1 T. sugar
pinch of cinnamon
peel of 1 lemon, grated
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 cup liqueur, any kind
6 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Put the chocolate into a bowl and pour the hot coffee over it, stirring until melted and smooth. Mix in the almonds, sugar, cinnamon, lemon, egg yolks and liqueur. Fold in beaten egg whites.

Pour into the tart shells. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

When cool, melt about 4 ounces chocolate in a bowl with 1 T. oil. Spread over the cooled cookies.


  1. Hey Linda. I just found you on foodies Friday. Your recipes look absolutely delicious. Living in Italy for a year must have been brilliant. You've definitely got the passion for food I see. Well done.

  2. Hello Linda. I found this recipe by googling bocconnoti. I'm wondering if, under the melted chocolate, your bocconnoti resemble these: http://latavola.blogspot.com/2007/11/bocconotti.html. I'm trying to find a recipe similar to my great grandmother's. Thanks a lot!

  3. Steph V - The recipe I have posted is close to the photo in the link you sent, but mine are more dense, and more chocolate-y.

  4. Wow, these are completely different from any I've ever seen!!!

  5. How many grams of lard goes into original recipe?

  6. Anonymous - Let me see if I can find the original recipe and I'll get back to you. I am not sure if I'll be able to find it quickly though, so be patient. Thanks.

  7. Buongiorno amica,

    I love it! I was just thinking about doing these, and I was poking around for recipes.

    We loved them as kids, but I do not have my grandmother's recipe. As you note, they did not last long. Hers were, as I recall, pasta frolla and she made them in what I recall as mini-brioche tins. She did not use chocolate, but rather walnuts, raisins, dates, etc.

    Merry Christmas!