Il Mattone
Il Mattone.

Last week during dinner at Mauro Musso’s house, the conversation turned, not surprisingly, to food. The topic was the cucina piemontese, one I am both somewhat familiar with and totally ignorant of. There are really two cucine piemontesi: the one you find in restaurants (vitello tonnato, carne cruda, bagna cauda–this one, I’ve got down pat) and the other (l’antico comodino di frattaglie di cortile, la finanziera, and il mattone), which is prepared for the home table and I am only just getting to know.

Angela makes a mean Mattone
Angela cutting the brick.

I had a chance to try tajarin all’antico comodino that night and Angela, one of the dinner guests, offered to make me mattone later that week. Il Mattone (the brick), sometimes called dolce mattone or torta mattone, is one of Angela’s most famous dishes. She soaks cookies in coffee and spreads a layer of buttercream over them, dusts the layer in cocoa, and repeats until reaching the desired thickness. She then covers the whole thing in toasted hazelnuts, cuts and serves.

Il Mattone
So many layers!

There is no doubt that the thing is a bomba, but Angela manages to make a potentially heavy dessert unusually light. You can find a recipe similar to hers (in Italian) here.