St. Ilario’s shoes

Everything started with a nice pair of shoes that a cobbler, moved with compassion, gave to a poor man, a stranger, who happened to be passing by Parma, wearing a broken pair of shoes, in a very cold winter day of many, many centuries ago. That man's name was Ilario. He was a French theologian, a holy man, so holy as to be able to perform miracles. The generous cobbler found that out on the following day when, opening his craft shop, he saw a nice pair of shoes made of solid gold, instead of the broken shoes belonging to the unknown wanderer. St. Ilario of Poitiers later became the patron saint of Parma and, on January 13th, the day of his anniversary, by tradition, the "miracle" of his shoes is renewed.



(for 35 biscuits)

500g/17.6oz pastry flour
250g/8.8oz butter
200g/7oz caster sugar
5 egg yolks
1 tbsp cold water
1 lemon grated zest
1 orange grated zest
For the decoration:
150g/5.3oz peeled almonds
150g/5.3oz chocolate
1 package mixed sugar tails


Fold all the ingredients together gently with your fingertips. Envelop the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Then, using a rolling pin, roll out the shortcrust pastry till it is 4mm/1.1in thick. Take the typical mold used to make St. Ilario’s shoes and give shape to the biscuits. Place them in a baking tray and put them in the refrigerator once again for 20 minutes. In the meantime start preparing the decorations. Preheat the oven to a 160°C/320°F temperature, in convection mode. Place the almonds in a baking tray and let them dry for 1-2 minutes, without toasting them. When they have cooled down, grind them to a fine crumble. On a gas hob melt the chocolate in a bain-marie, to obtain a fluid cream. Once the buiscuits are done, you can have fun decorating the “shoes” in different ways and giving them different tastes! With a spatula, spread on some of them a thin coating of chocolate, then, at will, add a handful of mixed sugar tails. Cover up others with almond crumble. Set the electric oven to a 175°C/350°F temperature and cook for 13/15 minutes. The cooking time depends on the size of the “shoes”. The important thing is that you get a perfectly even browning!