In the Roman Catholic Church, All Soul’s Day, which was established by Pope Boniface IV, specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and have reached heaven. Catholics celebrate All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual connection between those in a state of grace who have died and either being purified or are in heaven.
Across much of Europe, this Day of the Dead (Giordo dei Morti), is commemorated with flowers left on graves of the departed. In Italy, All Soul’s Day, the day after All Saint’s Day, is a long held tradition and celebrated on the 2nd day of November. It’s a day of remembrance as families honor the souls of their deceased loved ones. And, as with all Italian celebrations, there is a specific sweet treat that is fitting for the occasion.
The Sicilian tradition, includes children remembering their relatives “that are no more” by eating the classic cookies of All Soul’s Day, known as ossi di morti (bones of the dead). The cookies are crunchy and have an intense almond flavor. When dunked into a cappuccino, they become both chewy and crunchy. Perfetto!
- 1 cup whole almonds with skins, toasted
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and evenly spread out all of the almonds in a single layer. Bake in a preheated 350* oven on the middle rack until toasted (about 10 minutes). Let cool completely. Using a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.
- In the bowl of a stand-mixer (Kitchen-Aid), blend the sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add lemon juice and almond extract.
- Add the flour and ground almonds and beat on medium speed 2-3 minutes, until the dough is soft elastic.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands, mold the dough into a ball.
- Tear off a piece of dough and roll into a rope about 1/2 -inch in diameter and 18-inches long. Cut into various lengths (2 or 3-inches long). Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Place the cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets 2-inches apart (don’t crowd, they will spread).
- Bake in 300* oven 15 minutes. Let cookies cool slightly, transfer to baking rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.