MAKES ABOUT 40 SQUARES
The late Tuscan chef Edgardo Sandoli was an authority on Italian rice, and it was a great pleasure of mine to teach cooking classes with him in Montalcino, an ancient Tuscan town with a pristine landscape famous for its production of Brunello di Montalcino wine. Edgardo's cooking was all about efficiency and quick work in the kitchen.
To this day, whenever I am in a hurry and need something fast for dessert, I make nocciolata, rich shortbread-like textured squares chock full of nuts. They are perfect with ice cream or a fresh fruit salad. They keep away the winter chill with a cup of tea or coffee. Edgardo used only hazelnuts, but I use a combination of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans.
3/4 cup walnut halves
3/4 cup shelled whole almonds
3/4 cup shelled hazelnuts
3/4 cup pecan halves
5 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Place the nuts on a baking sheet on the middle oven shelf and toast them for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and allow them to cool. Coarsely chop the nuts and set them aside.
In a large bowl combine the flour and sugar. Pour in the butter and combine the mixture well. Stir in the nuts. The mixture will be stiff. I find it best to do this by hand.
Spread and pat the mixture out evenly onto a 17Ã—11 1/2-inch nonstick baking sheet.
Bake on the bottom rack for 25 minutes, or until the top and edges are nicely browned.
Cool slightly, then cut into 2-inch squares.
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