All Saints ‘Day and typical traditional sweets: the beans of the dead Published from user
The beans of the dead are typical sweets of central Italy. They are always made to celebrate All Saints. We offer you the original recipe and its tasty variations.
The All Saints celebrations are approaching and probably the elderly housewives of the Apennines are already preparing to churn out the typical sweets to honour this tradition: the beans of the dead.
They are almond biscuits that are similar to amaretti biscuits but with the centre which makes them look like actual beans.
Hence the name of these biscuits comes from their shape but why are they called “beans of the dead “?
Precisely because of their link to All Saints ´ Day and because they are made in memory of the dead! Just imagine that the ancient Greeks used to distribute the beans of the dead during the funeral perhaps as a sign of good luck. For the Romans , however, the beans represented the souls of loved ones who came to visit the world of the living on the night of All Saints. The preparation of the beans of the dead in the rural tradition today is linked to this legend. Our grandmothers have often told us that these biscuits were used to welcome our loved ones as if to give them a chance to refresh themselves after a long journey to visit us in the world of the living.
If you live in central Italy you have surely noticed that the bakeries and cake shops on these days are flooded with the fragrant smell of these sweets typical of the days when we celebrate the dead. If you can not find the beans of the dead in your city, we recommend a recipe to make them at home. There are a few ingredients and many possible variations but one important ingredient is a must: almonds.
Ingredients for 50 biscuits:
100 g almonds
70 g 00 flour (or 40 g 00 flour and 30 g almond flour)
120 g sugar
50 g softened butter
– Take the almonds, divide them into two portions, then chop them up so one portion is finely ground almost to a powder and the other one roughly ground.
– On a wooden counter or in a bowl mix the flour, sugar and the ground almonds.
– when the mixture is ready, add butter (taken out of the fridge 30 mins. before) and then add 1 egg to make it all stick together well.
– knead the dough by hand until it is soft but compact.
– divide the dough into long snakes of about 3 cm in diameter (similar to those made in the preparation of gnocchi).
– cut each snake of dough into small rounds, which will be rolled into balls by hand.
– Lay the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
– Before putting it in the oven remember to make an indentation in the centre of each biscuit with your fingers.
– the beans of the dead are finally ready to be baked: ventilated oven at 180 ° C for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
With this recipe we have proposed the classic version of this traditional dessert but there are different variations of the beans of the dead! Before starting to make the dough you can add lemon or orange peel or pistachio or – for somebody with a sweet tooth – berries or cherries!
We recommend serving beans of the dead preferably slightly warm together with “cooked” wine or sour cherry wine. It will be a great opportunity to invite friends to your house to spend the days of the dead or the actual celebration of All Saints together. You can also serve them on Sundays during a family lunch to remember and be thankful for those who are no longer among us.