Esse Buranei and Bussolà (Cookies from Burano)


Esse BuraneiMy trip through the Venetian Lagoon was phenomenal and the stunning sites and scenery will be forever etched in my mind. Especially the food. And of course the Prosecco.

When I see something wonderful to eat, my heart beats just a little bit faster. In the case of the sensational Fritto Misto (fried squid and shrimp) served on the boat, it was pounding. And it continued racing with the first bite of the Risotto Gò. But it slowed to its normal rate when the plate of cookies was set down on our table for dessert. “What’s that?”, I asked pointing to the rather nondescript baked items. Monica and our table mates all smiled like they had a secret and answered, “Bussolà!” Okay, I thought, but they don’t look very interesting…and absolutely nothing was registering on the amazing food heart palpitation meter. Then I had a bite.Esse Burranei BussolaMy oh my! Light, buttery and heavenly can only start to describe this blissful cookie. Its rich taste is similar to an English shortbread or French sable. You really can’t judge a book by its cover (or a cookie by its crunch like sbrisolona, but I digress).

BuranoA traditional sweet from the island of Burano, known for its brightly colored houses and handmade lace, the cookie goes by a few different names depending on the shape. The dough recipe is the same. These are called Esse Buranei because the shape is an “S” and Buranei is dialect for Burano.  Bussolà Buranello is the name of the circle shape and the origin comes from busa which means “hole” in dialect. A log form is also acceptable. Same taste, different shape and all can be enjoyed with morning coffee, as a snack or after dinner with a vin santo, dessert wine or grappa. Dipping is always allowed. Sort of an all-purpose, anytime cookie.

Local bakeries on Burano specialize in Bussolà.Carmelina Pastry ShopMarco, the young chef at the marvelous La Terrazza restaurant at Albergo al Sole in Asolo, grew up not far from Venice. After several years of cooking at a renowned Venetian restaurant, he has now made his mark with his exceptional food in this charming hilltop town. Chef Marco was kind enough to share his special Esse Buranei recipe with me.

Esse Burranie Bussola

No matter what the shape, the taste is outstanding and I hope that even before that first bite, your heart will beat just a little bit faster.

Esse Buranei and Bussolà (Cookies from Burano)
Serves: 24
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 c./250 g sugar
  • 1 tsp. rum
  • grated zest of ½ lemon
  • 4 c./500 g flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 7 oz./200 g butter at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  1. In medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until well combined.
  2. Add the rum and lemon zest and whisk another 30 seconds until well mixed.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and salt. Add egg/sugar mixture and the butter and mix starting at a low speed and finishing at medium high until the dough becomes crumbly but holds together when you pinch it.
  4. Gather dough into a ball, cover in plastic and let sit in a cool place, not the refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
  5. While dough is resting, preheat oven to 300°F/150°C.
  6. There are several shapes to form the dough. Take a piece of dough the size of a golf ball and squeeze it gently to form a roll about 4” or 10 cm. Shape it into an “S”. You can also roll it a little longer and make it into a circle. Or if you’re not feeling creative, a log shape is just fine. The taste is the same but just watch the baking time depending on the shape.
  7. Brush with beaten egg whites.
  8. Bake on parchment covered baking sheets for 20-22 minutes until lightly golden.