On 31st October much of the Christian Western world marks All Hallows' Eve or Hallowe-en, or All Saints' Eve, a festival with arguably pagan or Christian origins. In Italy, most will wait for All Saints' (or Souls) Day itself and celebrate Tutti Morti, or Day of the Dead on 2 November. This is the day for remembering your departed ancestors.
There is no one dish associated with the celebration in Italy. Each region has its own favourites, but cookies or biscuits often play a part. Ossi dei Morti translates as 'bones of the dead' and they're one of the many types baked at this time. I've been making these little morsels for years since coming across the recipe in Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere. They're meant to resemble bleached, brittle, bones and their macabre name is part of the appeal.
I've scaled down the original recipe and the quantities I've used here will produce around 40 biscuits. I've also used a tiny drop of Amaretto liquor instead of almond essence. Hand-chopping the almonds is worth the effort for that extra crunch, but you can chop them briefly in a processor to save time. They'll keep for at least a week in an airtight container. —Evie