Every year, Nonna Onorina in Magliano de’ Marsi makes delicious pizza co le nuci (pizza con le noci, or walnut cakes) for her family. Her granddaughter Giulia sent us the recipe and photos.

In Abruzzo, when you ask about quantities for a recipe you are likely to hear “a occhio”, “by sight”, which means you need to cook intuitively, decide on the quantities as you go. Taste it, smell it, add a bit more of this or that.

Nonna Onorina mixing cocoa powder with flour

So, if you want to try to cook like an Abruzzese nonna, here is a challenge for you: Nonna Onorina’s chocolate and walnut Christmas cakes, no detailed recipe, just a few guidelines.

In Abruzzo, the word “pizza” is traditionally used for bread that is not shaped like a loaf, sweet or savoury, so you’ll often hear “pizza pane” or “pizza dolce”.

Dark chocolate is finely ground with walnuts
Chopped walnuts and dark chocolate


400gr wheat flour, 3 tbsps olive oil, 3 tbsps sugar, water and cocoa powder.

For the filling: 400gr shelled walnuts, 300gr dark chocolate, 300gr honey, 400gr raisins, lemon zest of 2 lemons, rum, anise liquor, cinnamon, sugar and cocoa powder.

Makes five cakes

The dough with filling is trimmed before being shaped into a flat cake

The preparation goes like this: Soak raisins in anise liquor for a few minutes. Finely grind walnuts, chopped dark chocolate and lemon zest. In a bowl mix the ground ingredients with honey, raisins, cinnamon, rum and sugar. Let this fragrant mixture sit overnight. Next day you make the dough using flour, cocoa powder, sugar and some oil. Roll the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Make a rough oval, put the filling on top of it (add more honey if you fill the filling is not sticky enough) and fold the dough over it forming a long thick sausage. Connect the ends to make a flat pizza shape. Make one big pizza or several smaller. Bake for 35-40 minutes.  

Baked pizza con le nuci cakes
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