In my opinion (I’m sure I’m not alone here), the best part of these streusel cakes is the streusel topping itself. Can you imaging a goodie entirely consisting of the delectable buttery and nutty crumbs? And that  is exactly what the sbrisolona is – a gigantic (12-inch in diameter) crunchy cookie. Italians never cease to amaze me with their delicious creativity.

The recipe below is adapted from Nancy Silverton. I couldn’t resist a temptation and browned the butter instead of just melting it.

Makes one huge cookie (12-inch)


  • 2 sticks (½-lb) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups (8 oz) whole toasted unblanched almonds, divided
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 ¼ cups semolina flour
  • 1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp orange flower water


Center an oven rack and preheat to 350F. Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Place an 11 to 12-inch flan ring on the lined sheet (you can use a springform ring instead; unlatch it to make larger if you need). Lightly coat the ring with some melted butter. Set aside.

Place the butter in a small saucepan and cook the butter over medium heat until it is medium brown and has a nutty aroma, 5-6 minutes. Do not allow to burn. Remove from the heat. Set aside to cool slightly. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve, set aside.

Roughly chop half of the almonds. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the rest of the whole almonds with half of the granulated sugar and process until it’s consistency of fine meal. Add the remaining sugars, flours, and salt, and pulse to incorporate. Lightly whisk the yolks with flower water and add through the tube while pulsing. Add the browned butter, pulsing, until the mixture is moistened, but doesn’t come together. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and mix in the remaining chopped almonds.

Pick up a handful of dough, squeeze it together lightly in your fist, and crumble it, in large chunks, into the mold. Dimple the dough to help press it together, making an uneven layer. Continue a handful at a time, crumbling and dimpling the remaining dough. The surface should be very bumpy and uneven. Once all of the dough is in the mold, dimple one final time to ensure that it holds together, but isn’t tightly compressed.

Cover the ring with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and return it to the oven for about 25-30 minutes more, until it’s firm to the touch and light golden brown.

Cool completely on a cooling rack. Break up into large, uneven chunks.

It’s even better the next day.