Tuesday, December 13, 2016

cracking nuts for Christmas

PANGIALLO
PANGIALLO
Every year, since I can remember, this pangiallo has found its spot on our Christmas table. There was a time that my grandmother, mother and aunts, had a family reunion just to crack the shells of the nuts that went into it, and let me tell you, we’re talking about piles of nuts for copious amounts of pangiallo. After delivering those that went to one family, and to other, the ones to our next door neighbors and those that needed to go to our doctor, our dentist, the bus driver, the milkman and the guy that sold us the nuts, we still had enough pangiallo to cover the Christmas season and more for months to come. You can understand why my sister and I couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore, I mean, really, not even from afar, especially when we found slices in our school snacks, almost everyday. 

Nonetheless, the years went by, my sister and I married, the family expanded, and the pangiallo never failed to make its appearance around Christmas.  We stopped the nut cracking reunions when my beloved mother and nonna passed away, we also stopped making our own pangiallo because there was always someone that would gift us with “their” pangiallo anyway. Until we began to feel a sort of nostalgia for the taste of “our” pangiallo, the nut cracking, the aroma of roasted nuts, the nutmeg, the family gatherings and all. Somehow I found myself buying nuts again, cracking them  with my nonna’s personal nutcracker, roasting them and making copious amounts, almost like a beautiful nightmare, if that makes any sense to you as it does to me. Suddenly the pangiallo saga was back and not only for the nostalgic memories but because, for us, it simply isn’t Christmas without it.
PANGIALLO
Pangiallo

*measurements are for shelled nuts
*makes 4 medium size pangialli

300 gr almonds
300 gr walnuts
300 gr hazelnuts
100 gr pine nuts
800 gr raisins
850 gr honey
zest of 1 untreated organic orange
freshly ground nutmeg (1)
500-600 gr flour
200 gr good quality dark chocolate
2 tbsp. dark chocolate cocoa powder
Melt the honey and chocolate in a microwave or in a pot over a low flame, pour over the mix of nuts. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the nuts are covered with the honey and chocolate mixture.  It should be of a fairly hard consistency. Mix the chocolate cocoa powder and flour and stir it in the nut mixture, a little at a time. At a certain point you may need to use your hands, make sure to wet your hands with some vegetable oil before you do so, it will be easier to work the nut dough.  Divide in 4 equal balls and shape into round or oval loaves. Bake for 40 minutes up to 1 hour at 140 – 150 ºC.