As Gourmet Living readers are aware, I am not a huge fan of desserts. I prefer texture, crunch and a touch of tart to the traditional creamy and sugar-infested choices often found on most restaurant menus. During a recent trip to Ossana, Italy: about 70 km northwest of Trento, I discovered sbrisolona or frigolotta, as it is called by natives of the Val di Sole.
Now there are hundreds of variations of Sbrisolona or Frigolotta – and I personally sampled many – but here are a few recommended variations that you may wish to consider when making your homemade Sbrisolona:
- Traditional Sbrisolona is made with lard. Some recent recipe variations suggest a mixture (50/50) of lard and butter. We recommend 100% butter.
- Traditional Sbrisolona had very few if any nuts. We recommend only almonds, preferably chopped up.
- Some recipes call for white wine to add moisture. We recommend grappa (clear liquid, preferably a grappa made from the nocciola or moscato grape).
- Grated lemon peel is always a welcome addition.
- The pastry dough should not be mixed too finely (like a crumble).
ADVICE: GOOD PASTRY CHEFS WEIGH INGREDIENTS RATHER THAN MEASURE THEM
This is a recipe that will undergo several updates as we perfect the Gourmet Living “Val di Sole” variation. Nevertheless, we present below the recipe for Torta Sbrisolona from the classic Italian cookbook, Il Cucchiaio d’Argento (with a few modifications):
Yield 12 servings
This is a wonderful dessert from the Trento area in Italy. It is more like a cookie than a cake and you will find yourself eating it at all times of the day. Traditionally made with lard, most people now use butter.
• 200 grams of white flour • 200 grams of cornmeal fine) • 180 grams of sugar • 200 grams of blanched almonds (we recommend chopped coarsely) • 100 grams of butter (we recommend 200 grams and eliminate lard) • 100 grams of lard (substitute butter - see above) • 2 egg yolks • Grated lemon peel • 1/2 bustina of vanilla (recommend 1 tsp of vanilla extract) • butter • pinch of salt
OPTIONAL: 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp of grappa or white wine
- Mix the two types of flour with the sugar, chopped almonds, pinch of salt, vanilla and lemon peel (Optional: Add the white wine or grappa). In the center of the mixture, add the egg yolks and butter and roughly mix into a pastry dough. It doesn't need to be uniform.
- Place the dough evenly in a greased cake pan, sprinkle some cornmeal over the top. The dough should be about 3 cm high. Cook at 180ºC or 350ºF for about 40 minutes. Shortly after baking, remove and transfer to cooling rack.
- Serve at room temperature.
If you can resist temptation, this cake will last for several days. Enjoy.