A Menu For the Day of the Dead, & a walk through Le Marche

On November 1st, all the people who have any reason to visit a graveyard, will go and bring some flowers to the dead.
Though I am not a fan of those religious occurrences where you do this and that only once a year, this November we have been blessed by beautiful weather and hazy, fog-shrouded sceneries of orange-tinted trees and fields. It is also a time to cook and eat together, and gather for some family time.

A November walk through Le Marche Region, Italy

A November walk through Le Marche Region, Italy

Two dear people took me through many amazing places in the Le Marche region, of which I am incredibly fond of.
I live in an awkward zone. Gradara, with its beautiful castle, sits on the border between the Romagna and Marche regions, and things can get quite confusing. The dialects can be very diverse even within the very region, and foods, people and traditions change an incredible lot.
Le Marche, with its lush, dark green forests, medieval castles and villages on top of each hill, vast fields and wild beaches, has always been in my heart for many reasons. It was amazing to have the chance to visit three beautiful villages and learn something new (including two recipes that I had no idea about and that I would like to present to you in the future).
November is far from a cold, dull gray month in places like these.

This is just one part on what I saw this weekend. I am keeping the rest to share in the next post!
I went to a place called Corinaldo, and it was so, so pretty. And so large for a medieval village! Me and a friend took some pics. I am waiting to see his! He took quite a cool pic of me.

A November walk through Le Marche Region, Italy

The day after, me and my vegetarian coworker/friend went up to another small castle called Montefabbri. It is labeled as one of the most beautiful places in Italy, but it is so small, and nobody knows about it. The village per se is beautiful, but not nearly as beautiful as the skies that we saw from high up there.
It was so breathtaking I even forgot to take a picture.
The moments you forget to take pictures of are always the best.

These days count as a holiday, so here are two holiday recipes. The Ravioli with pumpkin, mushroom and Gorgonzola is out now on the Corriere website!

Fave dei Morti - Italian Almond Cookies for the Day of the Dead

But the real protagonists of this post are these cookies. They are very common throughout the whole country, but this version is especially popular in both my regions.
“Fave dei Morti’, the cookies of the dead, are crispy cookies that are usually only baked for November 1st and 2nd, when in Italy the days of the Dead and All Saints are celebrated. They are crispy and crunchy, and are usually meant to be eaten dipped in sweet wine, much like cantucci. They are, of course, also gorgeous dipped in coffee, tea, or any other liquid (even water, I daresay). the recipe varies a lot throughout Italy, and every region, bakery and family has its own version. Fave from Veneto, for example, are colorful little nugget dyed with food coloring. All of my coworkers can vouch for my mom’s version, as they happily devoured them and loved them – even dipped in the crappy coffee we have at work.
Make them healthier by using coconut or linseed oil, and by using some natural raw sugar like Muscobado or coconut.

Fave dei Morti (Almond Cookies of the Dead)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Makes many cookies
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 100g Almond meal / flour
  • 100g Whole wheat flour (sub your favorite gluten-free flour for a GF version)
  • 50g Potato starch
  • 200 to 250g brown sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 80g softened butter, vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ to ½ tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. It is as easy as put all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until well combined, or mix everything in a bowl and knead to combine. You should end up with a sticky but stiff dough.
  2. Wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 Cº / 355 Fº.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, take out the dough and form 1-inch sized balls. Line them on the tray, leaving some distance in between each other, as they will expand in the oven (much like chocolate chip cookies)
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and until your whole kitchen smells like candied almonds (this depends a lot on your oven - keep a close eye on it). Wait for them to cool before eating, as they will still be slightly soft fresh out of the oven, and might look like they are not 100% cooked.
  6. Serve with something to dip them in - preferably sweet wine, like Moscato or Vin Santo, but any dipping liquid will do, really. Even water, and I am not kidding.
  7. Enjoy!

What are your November traditions, and what are you cooking/baking this month?

Fave dei Morti - Italian Almond Cookies for the Day of the Dead

  1. In Veneto, fave used to be colured with alchermes, hence the pink hue. Nowdays it is mostly food colouring, but my grandma would still use the red licor to make them. I admit I never liked them, until past teenage years. :) For me, November is all about roasted chestnuts and white sweet poatoes – dense, starchy, boiled then roasted, peeled and eaten as they are. A beloved tradition o mine. I love reading you are starting to ‘own’ your region(s) again, and that you are liking what you see: it is so important to rediscover a feeling of belonging to a place. I look forward to the ravioli recipe! xx

    • I so agree with everything you said, Valeria! And of course, in old times those had to be colored with Alchermes. Thanks for pointing that out. I am sure I saw multi-colored cookies though…I wasn’t wrong, was I?
      the ravioli recipe is out! :D read the comments and have a good laugh (or, if you have remarks or critiques, please let me know:) )

  2. Day of the dead is my fav holiday ever! But this year I was commuting from Lisbon to Porto so I had no celebration at all. But, this month is a treat: roast chestnuts (that we eat straight out of the oven and use the leftovers for purees and soups), pumpkin in every possible way, black pudding risotto, tea and rosemary parmesan scones. The list is endless, as november is a month of bounty :)

    • Amazing! Chestnuts are a great way to celebrate though! I had no idea Portugal had this holiday too, thanks for sharing! I still haven’t done roasted chestnuts, but it’s about time… :)

    • Wow! You do?! Where do you go exactly?
      I really, reeeeally recommend you at least stop by Urbino when you have a chance. If you ever do, let me know and I’ll suggest some good eats! ;)

  3. There are three things I love about this post (in order of appearance)
    1. your coat in your friend’s picture of you (awesome)
    2. the curious run-away kitty <3
    3. these amazing cookies that I might even have all the ingredients to make them this weekend!
    Can I use the almond pulp left from the almond milk or is it too drained?

    p.s. I didn't count the amazing pics for not stating the obvious :D

    • Hi Saghar! thank you <3 The kitty is called Mr. Brown, I hope I'll manage to snap a couple more pics of him in the future! he's sneaky!
      As for your question, I actually used dehydrated almond pulp leftover from almond milk to make these. Just dried it a bit in a low oven (maybe 80 Cº?) and processed it to make it finer! :) So it works!It would probably work perfectly even freshly squeezed...

  4. Your blog is so great for helping me understand the culture I have moved into. In our region (Fruili Venezia Guilia) the fave are little balls in brown, pink and creamy yellow. They also don’t seem to use flour in them as I have brought them for a gluten intolerant friend before. At least I know why I couldn’t find them when I wanted to take her another packet! I assume they must be similar to the ones in the Veneto.

    • Hi Michelle! Sometimes it is so difficult for native Italians, as well…some things might have the same name but be totally different, while some others might be called different but be the same thing…ack! What you are talking about are the same ‘cookies of the dead, yes!’ but they are prepared differently all throughout Italy. The almond flour, though, is a constant. I wonder how the Giulian version is! Yes, they must be super close to the Veneto ones.