Tegole d’Aosta

Aosta “Tiles”

These thin, crisp almond-and-hazelnut wafers are a specialty of Aosta, capital city of the Val d’Aosta region, Italy’s French-speaking enclave. Aosta has everything — breathtaking mountain views, Roman ruins, and excellent food. The wonderful Pasticceria Boch, right in the center of the city on Piazza Chanoux, is a typical Old World pastry shop. There is an elegant salesroom, a bustling stand-up bar, and indoor and outdoor café tables where residents and tourists alike savor coffee or other drinks and, of course, the heavenly pastries.

Tegole have been part of the Pasticceria Boch’s assortment of cookies since early in the century, when the establishment was founded by the grandfather of the present owner, Augusto Boch. Signore Boch explained that the tegole were so popular that his father, Edmondo, capitalized on this and named them tegole d’Aosta. Now every pastry shop and restaurant in the city has them, in varying versions.

Signore Boch was happy to share the recipe, which translated into American measurements very easily. In his pastry shop, where they make hundreds of tegole at a time, they use a metal stencil as large as the pan on which the cookies are baked, with many 3-inch circular openings in it. Then they simply spread the batter over the stencil, lift it, and an entire pan of tegole is ready to be baked. You can simulate the stencil (with one modest opening) using a piece of flexible plastic, like the lid of a ricotta container or a piece of stiff, thin cardboard, with a 2½-inch circle cut out of the center, according to the illustrations.

If you use unblanched almonds and hazelnuts, the finished tegole will be attractively speckled. If the nuts are already blanched, the cookies will be lighter in color.

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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup whole almonds
  • ¼ cup whole hazelnuts
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Pinch salt

Method

Combine the almonds, hazelnuts, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse repeatedly to grind to a fine powder. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in the flour. In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites with the salt and continue whipping until they hold a soft peak. Stir the egg whites into the nut mixture. They will fall, but it does not matter, since the tegole will leaven slightly while they are baking.

Butter 4 or 5 jelly roll pans or cookie sheets thickly. For this purpose it is better to use very soft (but not melted) butter, applying it with a brush. Place twelve ½-teaspoon mounds of the batter on the pan, in 4 rows of 3 mounds, then use the back of a spoon to widen and flatten the mounds into 2½- to 3-inch disks. Or, to shape the tegole with your plastic stencil, position the stencil on the prepared pan. Place ½ teaspoon of batter in the stencil and then spread back and forth once or twice with an offset spatula. Repeat with all the batter. Bake the tegole at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, until they are an even, deep golden color. Remember to bake only one pan at a time, so that the shaping is not too hurried.

Immediately upon removing the pan from the oven, pry the tegole off the pan with a flat, sharp-edged spatula and drape them over a rolling pin or a roll of aluminum foil so that they curve and become crisp. Repeat with the remaining batter. Remove the tegole from the rolling pin or roll of foil after they have cooled enough to hold their shape, and finish cooling on a rack.

Store the tegole airtight or they will absorb humidity and become soggy.

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