The Day of the Dead (All Souls, November 2) is approaching. This year, I have been looking for different recipes to add to my Day of the Day repertoire. My first test run was an Italian cookie called fave dei morti: the beans of the dead! From what I read, these tiny cookies (made to be the size of a fava bean or lima bean) were given to the poor, or put out for the dead to "eat", or simply enjoyed. As you can see, I didn't do a great job with my bean-shaping, but I can work on it between now and 11/2. Taste-wise, these micro-cookies are great! I started from a recipe in Evelyn Birge Vitz's A Continual Feast, and made a number of changes:
Blanch 2/3 c almonds (or buy them already blanched): Pour boiling water over them, leave one minute, drain, pop the skins off. Put them on a baking sheet in a 200 F oven for 10 minutes to dry.
Grind the almonds till fine in a food processor: pulverized bones of the dead. Then add 3/4 c flour, 3/4 c sugar, 1/2 t salt, and 1 t cinnamon, and continue to grind until very fine and powdery.
Mix 1 T ground flaxseed with 3 T hot water unti it gets goopy, and add to the food processor. Then add grated rind of 1 lemon, 1/4 c vegan margarine, 1 t vanilla, and 1/2 t almond extract. Pulse briefly until it comes together in a ball. (I think oil - even olive oil - would work well in this recipe instead of margarine. And I saw recipes online that called for different alcoholic additions - anise liqueur, grappa, etc - if you want to vary the flavor.)
Pinch off bean-sized lumps of dough. It is sticky, so keep your hands wet. Flatten into desired shapes and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. The time totally depends on the size of your beans, so keep an eye on them. Hungry ghosts will likely be circling the oven, waiting....