Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stresa Travel Recipes: Margheritine di Stresa

For our second recipe I thought I'd go for something local: Margheritine di Stresa. They remind me of Scottish shortbread only much softer so they really melt in your mouth. Mmmmm!

So how did they come about? In the mid 1800's Princess Elisabetta of Saxony (Duchess of Genoa) and her daughter, Margherita used to come and stay at the Villa Ducale in Stresa. Local pastry chef, Pietro Antonio Bolongaro created these indulgent biscuits as a gift to Margherita and named them in her honour. She approved, production grew and other pastry chefs in Stresa began to make the Margheritine di Stresa. And what became of Margherita? Well, she went on to marry her first cousin, Umberto, who became King Umberto I in 1878 and Margherita was his Queen consort.

Villa Ducale, Stresa
You will find these yummy biscuits in bars, caf├ęs and bakers all over town. They make a great gift to take home, but if you fancy having a go at making your own then here's the recipe:

350g flour (I used 00)
150g potato starch
150g icing sugar (confectioners sugar) plus extra for dredging
300g butter
10 egg yolks, hard boiled
Lemon zest, grated

(NB these quantities make 50 Margheritine - I scaled it down to one fifth and made 10 Margheritine)


Squash the hard boiled egg yolks through a sieve with the back of a spoon and mix well with the butter and icing sugar. It makes a kind of wet paste.

Sieve and mix together the flour, potato starch and then add the vanilla and grated lemon zest.

Mixing the butter/sugar/egg yolk and combining the dry ingredients
Mix the butter/sugar/egg yolk into the dry ingredients to form a kind of dough.

Leave the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Part way through the resting time heat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

Making the dough, ready for the oven and fresh from the oven
Turn out on to a floured board and roll out to about 1cm thickness. Cut small rounds about 4cm diameter and place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment. Make a dimple in each biscuit with your thumb (characteristic of Margheritine). Bake for 15 minutes.

Cool completely on a wire rack and then dredge with more icing sugar. Enjoy!

The finished product!
They didn't turn out quite as melty as the ones you get in the cake shops but they're still pretty tasty and Luca has decided they taste better after a couple of days! Next time I might try a different ratio of flour to potato starch.

(If you're wondering what to do with the unused hard boiled egg whites then I did find this recipe online - I haven't tested it, but looks good! Cookies made with hard boiled egg white)

Let me know if you give them a try and how you get on.

Sarah, Viaggi Tomassucci

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