Pirichitti known as pirichittus in the Sardo dialect are biscuits from the island of Sardinia. As with many dishes depending on where you go on the island you'll find different variations. Some are more like a pastry with a hollow centre, others have a glossy icing. This recipe demonstrates how they're made in my hometown of Alghero. It also just so happens to be the yummiest variation! These aromatic crumbly biscuits are coated in a crispy white icing and aren't like anything you'll find in shops over here. For a true taste of Sardegna follow these simple steps.
1kg 00 Flour
300g Caster Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange
Zest of 1 Lemon
32g Baking Powder
2 Bags Vanillina
For the icing
4 Egg whites
600g Icing Sugar
1kg Farina 00
300g Zucchero Semolato
Scorza di 1 Arancia
Scorza di 1 Limone
2 Bustine di Vanillina
Per la glassa
600g Zucchero a Velo
È ora di cucinare!
Make sure your lard and eggs are at room temperature before you begin.
Grate the zest of the orange and lemon set aside
In a mixer using the flat beater attachment mix the eggs and sugar at high speed for 5 minutes. Whilst it's mixing add in the zest and aniseed
Cut the lard into cubes and add to the mixer one by one. Allow to mix for another 5 minutes once all the cubes are in.
Sift 1/2 the flour into the bowl and mix on low speed. When it's fully incorporated add the remaining flour and baking powder. The dough will become heavy for the mixer so add a splash of milk. Switch off the mixer and put the dough in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes
Line as many baking trays as will fit in your oven with greaseproof paper. 3 to 4 will be required. If you only have one non ti preoccupare you can bake them in batches.
Use your hands to roll the dough into little balls no bigger than a golf ball. Spread them out evenly on the baking tray.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160°C for approximately 30 minutes. Everyone's oven is different so be sure to keep an eye on them. When the surface cracks and they turn golden brown they're ready. Transfer them to a cooling rack.
Prepariamo la glassa!
Make sure the biscotti have cooled down
Using the wire whisk attachment beat the egg whites at high speed. Add a few drops of aniseed flavouring into the bowl.
When the egg whites are very frothy but not yet forming stiff peaks add the sifted icing sugar.
Continue to beat until the icing has a glossy look with a thick texture.
You have to coat the biscuits one at a time. Drop one in so the flat bottom is coated then pick it up with a tablespoon. Use a second tablespoon to swirl icing around the top half until it's fully coated. Set down on a sheet of greaseproof paper to dry. Repeat this process for the rest of the biscuits and leave overnight to dry.
Non vedo l'ora che sia mattina!
Because of their brilliant white icing these are great biscuits to decorate. They make a lovely gift for special occasions like Christmas and Easter!
I consigli di Melissa
This recipe makes approximately 60 biscuits. It's best to make them in the evening so that the icing can set overnight.
I prefer to use golden caster sugar as I find it has a nicer flavour but you can use regular too
Aniseed features in many Italian cakes and biscuits. Not everybody likes the strong flavour. I add 6 drops to the dough and 3 drops to the icing for a very delicate aroma. If you don't like aniseed there are lots of other flavours you can experiment with.
Traditionally these biscuits are made using lard. If you're vegetarian you could try substituting this with a vegetable shortening instead. Check the instructions on the packet.
These biscuits will keep for a couple of weeks if kept in an airtight container