Friday, December 18, 2009
Italian Almond Sbrisolona
In the grand and fairly populated Pantheon of Incredibly Stupendous Cookies, Sbrisolona surely has a very prominent place. Crunchy, chewy, crumbly, nutty and perfect for sharing, this is a recipe you absolutely can’t refuse. The endless crumbliness of it is half the fun and each morsel is irresistible.
Sbrisolona originates from the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. Italian pastries are most often distinguished by their texture, lower sugar content and rustic simplicity and Sbrisolona is no exception. With lots of almonds, a perfect blend of simple ingredients and a slow even toasting in the oven, you have a crunch to end all crunches. It has just the right amount of sweetness balanced by a good pinch of salt. The butter adds flavor without lending any greasiness or fat saturation and the indispensable inclusion of orange zest makes it absolutely perfecto.
Sometimes called a tart, this wonderful collection of crumbs comes together in just a few minutes. It’s baked in a pan like shortbread, so there is no rolling or slicing or chilling. You simply combine the ingredients, gently coax them into a rough crumb and then pour into a buttered pan and bake. The tradition is to break it apart with friends. If you wanted to make a gift of it you could probably carefully cut it into slices, but my guess is it won’t make it out the door.
- I’ve also seen recipes that use semolina and orange blossom water, but this recipe from Suzanne Goin is perfection.
- Although the recipe says 4 oz or 3/4 cup of almonds, my 4 oz came to just shy of 1 cup.
- In Italy, Sbrisolona is often enjoyed with Vin Santo, but would go with just about any beverage you favor.
- Sbrisolona can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days.
adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
3/4 C natural almonds (4 ounces) (I used a scant cup)
1 large egg yolk
1 T finely grated orange zest (I used 1 large orange)
1/4 t pure almond extract
1/4 t pure vanilla extract
1 C + 2 T flour
6 T cornmeal
1/2 t salt
3 1/2 oz (7 T) cold butter cut into 1/2” pieces
1/3 C granulated sugar
3 T brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8” springform pan.
Toast the almonds for about 10 minutes until golden. Coarsely chop into bite-sized pieces.
Combine the egg yolk, orange zest and the extracts.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Stir in both sugars and the chopped toasted almonds.
Pour the egg yolk mixture on top and work it in gently with your hands. Be careful not to over mix; the dough should be very crumbly and look like streusel.
Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan and very gently and loosely press the crumbs mostly around the edges and just very lightly across the top; the surface should be uneven and dimpled.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until it is a deep golden brown. Transfer to a rack and cool completely before unmolding. Place on a platter and dig in.