Fave dei morti al cacao

Fave dei morti (Beans of the dead) are an Italian cookie traditionally eaten in early November, so I’m a bit late. After reading lots of other recipes online, I was surprised to see quite a big variation in ingredients and quantities between them and my little Venetian dessert cookbook’s version. Some are all almond, some are mostly almond with some pine nuts, but this version is entirely pine nuts. And it includes no flour, so if you eat gluten free, you can enjoy them too.

These little cookies are rich, luxurious little bites. For grown-ups!


Makes about 4 dozen


300g (2 1/4 cups) pine nuts
200g (1 cup) granulated (white) sugar
30g (1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
5 medium egg yolks, lightly beaten
60ml (4 tbsp) grappa
1/2 tsp vanilla paste


Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F) and line two baking sheets with parchment.

Grind the pine nuts in a food processor until fine. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the sugar and cocoa and combine, then add the egg yolks, grappa and vanilla paste. Mix well. The mixture will be very sticky.

Pinch off lumps and use your palms to roll it into small balls about 2.5cm (1″) across, arrange them well spaced on the baking sheets (they’ll spread), then bake for 15 minutes. I baked mine one sheet at a time – if you do them at the same time, you will need to add another minute or two to the baking time and switch the sheets halfway.

Let them cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. They’ll firm as they cool.

This entry was posted in biscuit, cookie, italian, sweet. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Fave dei morti al cacao

  1. Have never heard of these – are they Venetian? They sound good!

  2. myninjanaan says:

    these look delicious! What is grappa?

    • pizzarossa says:

      Thanks 🙂 Grappa is a (pretty strong) alcoholic drink made from wine. The alcohol all gets cooked off when the cookies are baked, but there is still a strong flavour.

  3. I have never heard of these cookies before, but they sound interesting, look delicious and I bet taste awesome!

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