Dec 2, 2012

Almond beans (Beans of the Dead)

It's a traditional Halloween Italian recipe and a scary story. You leave the beans around the house so the ghosts eat them and leave you alone. I found the recipe afterwards, but I had to try it in case there were still some hungry ghosts in the area.

They looked so plain on the unbaked dough, like something was missing. Julian said "peanut butter"...hahaha. Hania said they were too grainy for her...For me there were great. They feel like a cookie but not quite, kind of like a truffle, but not so. They have a harder skin but the inside is soft. Not like a candy either...but really fun to bite on.

The recipe is simple, you just have to have 350 g almonds at hand. My beans didn't turn our yellowish, because I used almonds with skins. They are lightly brown with spots.  I used vodka instead of grappa, and I didn't have pine nuts so I just used almonds all the way.

The dough was perfect to roll little balls in your hands, it didn't get sticky and it was enjoyable. And then only 15 minutes in the oven and ready to eat. The recipe was accurate, I was told not to let the beans in the oven any longer. They only supposed to get very lightly brown. I think otherwise they would get really hard.

The beans taste Italian for sure, full of almonds, with a lemon zest and grappa (or vodka). Simple and satisfying.

Recipe adapted from Giallo Zafferano


350 g (2 1/2 cups) almonds, whole
150 g (1 cup) powder sugar
150 g (1 cup) flour
5 g (1 teaspoon) cinnamon
zest from 1 lemon
1 egg
2 yolks
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) vodka


Preheat the oven to 180 C/355 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl mix a bit the egg and the egg yolks with a teaspoon of vodka.

Grind the almonds till fine powder. 

In a bowl, using an electric mixer (or not) mix flour, powder sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest and the almonds.

Now add the egg mix to the almond mix, turn the mixer on and combine it all well.

Form about 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls with your hands and put them on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Transfer the sheet to the hot oven. Bake for 15 minutes till very lightly brown. You'll have about 45 beans. I used the oven twice. I don't like to put two baking sheets in the oven. I can't see what's on the bottom sheet and everything just bakes unevenly.

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