Before Easter in Tuscans bakeries and pastry shops there are cookies in the shape of a cocoa-colored letter. If you are in this period in Mugello or in another area of Tuscany it is difficult not to be intrigued and attracted by these famous Tuscan biscuits: Quaresimali!
Quaeresimali is in the period of Lent, that is, as the Catholic liturgy explains, the period of penance, in preparation for Easter, of forty days which runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. [ Quaresima means Lent in english].
Observing Lent means following the precept of abstinence and fasting to honor the days spent by Jesus in the desert.
It is said that in the Nineteenth Century nuns in a convent between Prato and Florence in the days of Lent did want to eat something sweet and invented the recipe for Quaresimali biscuits.
There are two details that make these cookies unmistakable:
1) the absence of animal fats. Quaresimali biscuits are in fact without butter, that is, without animal fat, to honor the fast of Jesus in his days in the desert.
2) The unmistakable shape and letter of the alphabet. The letters of the alphabet recall the word of the Gospel.
In respect of the precepts of Lent and Tuscan traditions, these biscuits have few ingredients.
In a preparation for 6 people you will need the following ingredients:
Preparation is simple and no special machinery is required:
1) whip the egg whites in a small bowl until stiff with a pinch of salt.
2) In another bowl, combine the other ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa) and grate the orange zest, remembering to wash and dry it well.
3) Slowly add the whipped egg whites to the other ingredients, taking care to maintain the frothiness of the whites.
4) With a large spout pastry bag (a sac à pohe) create your letters on a baking sheet.
5) Bake for 15 minutes in a hot oven at 150 degrees.
These biscuits are perfect for those who follow a low-sugar and lactose-free diet as it is one of the few recipes for a dessert without butter or oil or egg yolks.
Tuscans Quaresimali are recognized because they are shiny above and rough below, very light to digest and crumbly to the taste.
However, they are not the only desserts of the period of Lent in Italy, in fact in the North they add to this recipe hazelnuts and in the South, instead, almond paste.
Recognizing homemade Quaresimali is very simple: just look at the shape of the letters. The shape, even if made by an expert hand, never can be perfect.
The slightly clumsy letters are, in this case, a symbol of authenticity.
At Villa Campestri, as in all of Tuscany, in this period we do not fail to have a snack with these tasty and genuine Quaresimali cookies while waiting for a happy Easter for everyone! See you soon!
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