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Bocconotti

(Makes about 36)
Bocconotti
Bocconotti
Bocconotti, a word that literally means "small bites',  come from the southern regions of Lazio, Puglia, Abruzzo, and Calabria  and are made a little differently depending on which region they are from. They are traditionally made in individual baking cups that resemble tiny brioche molds but you can use a mini cupcake pan if you don't have the individual molds. The delicate lemon flavored pastry shells may be filled with grape jam or cherry preserves, ricotta cheese, or a chocolate-almond filling; which is the filling in our recipe. They can be made covered with dough or left open like little pies.  Bocconotti are usually very popular at Christmastime but they are perfect for any time of the year. 
DESSERTS >  COOKIES  >  BOCCONOTTI
Ingredients:

Pastry Dough:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Filling:
1 cup sliced almonds, about 3 ounces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Directions:

To make the pastry dough:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, whole egg, egg yolks, baking soda, and lemon zest.  With a pastry blender or a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture begins to come together.  Use your hands to gather the mixture into a dough and form into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.

To make the filling:
Put the almonds in a food processor and grind them until finely chopped.
Add the sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate, and cinnamon. Process again until the ingredients are well combined and finely chopped.

In a bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Fold the almond mixture into the beaten egg whites, about 1/3 at a time.
When the mixture is well combined, fold in the vanilla.

To form and bake the bocconotti:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
You will need 36 individual mini tart molds that are approximately 1-1/2 inches wide, measured across the top of the mold or mini cupcake pans with 36 openings.

Take a small amount of dough and roll it into a ball about the size of a small walnut.  Use your fingers to press it into the mini tart mold to form a shell of fairly even thickness against the edges of the mold.  Trim the excess off the top.  Continue in this manner until all the tart shells are formed.  Then place a teaspoon of filling in each tart shell.  Place all the filled tarts on 1 or 2 baking sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes until the dough is lightly golden.

Transfer the tart molds to wire racks to cool.  When cool, remove the bocconotti from the molds.  Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
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