Chocolate Coins (Monete di Cioccolato)

These tiny, soft, intensely chocolate cookies are packed with pine nuts, while a little grappa gives them a welcome bite. Called Fava of the Dead in Rome, they mark All Souls night. The dark, almost black color gives these innocent little coins a threatening edge. In the Rome of the Caesars, people believed fava beans held the souls of the dead.

Dark little cookies play with the same idea. I think they're the soul of dark, deep chocolaty flavors and are made to nibble with espresso, creamy Panna Cotta, or vanilla ice cream. Toasted almonds are a good substitute if pine nuts are too expensive.

  • 2 1/2 cups (11 ounces) pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup dark rum or grappa
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or butter and flour it. (Cookies bake in 3 batches. Spooning them out onto sheets of parchment makes the process easier.)

2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, puree 2/3 of the pine nuts with the sugar and flour. Add the salt, egg yolks, liquor, melted chocolate, cocoa, and vanilla and process until combined. Dough will be very soft. Turn into a bowl and stir in the remaining pine nuts.

3. Drop by 1/2 teaspoonfuls onto 3 sheets of parchment cut to fit your cookie sheet. Space cookies 1/2 inch apart. Set a parchment sheet on cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Cookies will be soft when pressed. Remove from oven. Repeat two more times with remaining dough on sheets of parchment. Cool cookies completely on the parchment paper set on a rack. Store in airtight container.

Adapted from The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Prep time: 
15 minutes
Cook time: 
12 minutes
Total time: 
27 minutes
Makes about 80 small cookies
  • Raghavan Iyer: The Key 3

    Raghavan Iyer is a bestselling cookbook author, culinary educator, spokesperson and consultant who specializes in Indian cuisine. In this installment of The Key 3, he shares the techniques behind three of his classic recipes: Smoky Yellow Split Peas, Sweet-scented Pilaf and Indian Slaw.

Top Recipes

Your roast isn't finished until it's under this classic pan sauce

A pan sauce takes maybe five minutes, and it's an easy and sexy finish to anything you oven or pan roast. Rarely is there a lot of pan sauce, but what you create can be so intense you won't want more than a spoonful over your dish.