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Biscotti and other Cookies

San Giovanni, San Giuseppe, Carnevale... Every holiday has a biscotto or cookie of some kind, and there are many more for times in between.

Artusi's Biscotti Croccanti Recipe - Artusi's First Crunchy Biscotti Recipe
Artusi doesn't say where he got his recipes for Biscotti Croccanti (he gives two), but this one could well have been inspired by Antonio Mattei, a close friend of his who in 1858 opened the Biscottificio Mattei, which is still Prato's signature bakery, and is still making his biscotti today.

A Visit to the Biscottificio Mattei
It's strange to think that the popularity of biscotti -- the flat twice-cooked almond cookies that have taken the world by storm in recent decades -- can be traced to one man, but it's true: In 1858 Antonio Mattei, a pastry chef who lived in the city of Prato, not far from Florence, opened a shop in what is now Via Ricasoli, and began to sell biscotti. They quickly attracted a following, and the rest is history...

Crumiri
Crumiri are crescent-shaped cookies made with a combination of flour and finely ground corn meal in the Monferrato region in Piemonte. Very good, and in my experience people ask for more.

Brutti Ma Buoni
The term Brutti ma Buoni means Ugly but Good, and is quite apt, because these traditional Tuscan cookies don't look like much, but vanish off the plate when you set them out. They take a bit of effort to make, but are well worth it.

Wine Cookies, or Biscotti al Vino
The holidays (or having friends for dinner) bring all sorts of leftovers, including half-empty bottles of wine. This is a surprisingly tasty way of dealing with said leftover wine, and your kids, or office-mates if you take these cookies to work, will loudly demand more. An excuse to open a second bottle!

Biscotti:
In the old days people baked biscotti (their cookies) twice, with wonderful results.

Pasticciotti Casalinghi
Pasticciotti Casalinghi: I've been getting requests for pasticciotti, which are holiday cookies filled with jam, for quite some time, and failing to find recipes -- this occasionally happens, either because the name used in Italy is different or because Italians take them for granted and therefore don't include them in cookbooks. So imagine my...

Dalmatian Christmas Ring Cookies -- Buzzolai Negri de Nadàl
Dalmatian Christmas Ring Cookies, or Buzzolai Negri de Nadàl: Buzzolai are ring-shaped cookies, and were an essential part of every festivity in Dalmatia, in part because their round shape brings coins to mind, and in part because they're quite tasty. Every family had a recipe for them, and they vary greatly. Here's a more elaborate recipe for Christmas Day.

Buzzolai Bianchi -- Dalmatian Ring Cookies
Buzzolai Bianchi, or Dalmatian Ring Cookies: Buzzolai are ring-shaped cookies, and were an essential part of every festivity in Dalmatia, in part because their round shape brings coins to mind, and in part because they're quite tasty. Every family had a recipe for them, and they vary greatly. Here's a simple recipe for Christmas Eve.

Anise-Laced Christmas Cookies -- Imbragioni
Anise-Laced Christmas Cookies, or Imbragioni: These cookies from the Isle of Veglia, in Dalmatia, and were traditionally dipped in either Vinsanto, Prosecco, or Marsala.

Milanese Biscotti -- Biscottini di Milano
Milanese Biscotti, or Biscottini di Milano: These are simple, but you'll find that they go very fast.

Susamielli
Susamielli: These are traditional Neapolitan Christmas cookies, and are S-shaped. For two possible reasons: First, in the past they were called sesamielli, and covered with sesame seeds. Second, they were (and are) called Sapienze, because they were made by nuns of the Monastero della Sapienza.

Cookies with Pine Nuts -- Biscotti con Pignoli
Biscotti con Pignoli, or Cookies with Pine Nuts A quick, tasty recipe.

Mother's Biscuits -- Biscotti Puerperali
Mother's Biscuits, or Biscotti Puerperali: Forgot to say we have a Wee One in the house; baby Clelia is a week old and growing, while Elisabetta is doing fine. A recipe from Artusi for the occasion:

Nun's Sighs -- Suspiru di Monaca
Nun's Sighs, or Suspiru di Monaca: Here's a Sicilian recipe for Suspiru di Monaca, Nun's Sighs, delicate macaroons that seem appropriate given the season.

Chitellini: More cookies from Adriana
Chitellini: More cookies from Adriana: A few issues back I passed on Adriana's Sicilian Almond-Coffee cookie squares. She has kindly sent another recipe: Cari Italiani in tutto il mondo, how is everyone doing? I had a customer who recently asked me if I had a recipe for "Chitellini" and wanted to know if they were difficult to make. Here is a great traditional recipe that is very easy to make and very tasty.

Adriana's Sicilian Almond Cookies
Adriana's Sicilian Almond Cookies: Adriana, who makes cookies in Agrigento and ships them fresh throughout the world, kindly contributed a recipe for Coffee-Flavored Almond Cookie Squares.

TortaDolce's Tatù
TortaDolce's Tatù: Tortadolce recently added to the Tatù thread (Tatù are Sicilian cookies) on the forum with this family recipe I am happy to pass along: "Here is an old family recipe for TATU' (pronounced 'THAY TWO'). Originally it was a mega recipe, as most of my Nana's recipes were. I've reduced it by 50%. It should yield about 100 cookies."

Tatù -- Sicilian Cookies
Tatù, Sicilian Cookies: From Cosa Bolle in Pentola, the Newsletter -- To begin with, happy Halloween to those who celebrate it! In Italy the holiday was unknown just a few years ago, but it's catching on very fast, both as something for kids and as an occasion for adults to party. We don't have anything traditional for it, but we do have lots of traditional things for Ognissanti, All Saint's Day, which falls the day after Halloween. In particular, Bones of the Dead.

Catalani
Catalani: While we're on the subject of All Saint's Day, someone recently posted a request for a Sicilian cookie called Tatù on the forum. Pino Correnti, author of Il Libro d'Oro della Cucina e Dei Vini di Sicilia, says they're similar to Catalani, but with quite a bit of cocoa powder worked into the dough, and a chocolate glaze.

Sumsum Cookies -- Biscotti di Sumsum
Sumsum Cookies, or Biscotti di Sumsum: These are among the cookies that Italian Jews enjoy in the occasion of the breaking of the Fast of Yom Kippur. According to Ms. Vitali-Norsa, they are oriental in origin.

Sweet Black and White Truffles -- Tartufi Dolci Bianchi e Neri
Sweet Black and White Truffles, or Tartufi Dolci Bianchi e Neri: The Langhe are the land of truffles, especially white ones, and there's a steady stream of festivals that draw people from mid-October through December. Of course not everyone likes truffles, and the season does come to an end. And there are times that truffles really don't work -- say with a cup of coffee, at the end of the meal...

Home Made Cookies -- Biscotti Casalinghi
Home Made Cookies, or Biscotti Casalinghi: Home Made Cookies, or Biscotti Casalinghi: This is a recipe I got from Rita, a woman who lives in Valpolicella who got it from her sister, a school teacher who has the kids who stay on after school because nobody's home make it. Strangely enough for an Italian recipe, it relies on volumes rather than weights.

Strawberry Cherry-Filled Puffs
Strawberry Cherry-Filled Biscotti: These little pastries are quite tasty and much simpler than one might guess. Rita made them for a dinner among friends in Valpolicella and was kind enough to share the recipe.

Ravioli di Ricotta
Ravioli di Ricotta: These are a sweet cookie from lazio, made by stuffing ravioli with a sugary ricotta filling and frying them. Tasty!

Panzerotti di Ricotta
Panzerotti di Ricotta are sweet Calabrian ravioli stuffed with a ricotta mixture and fried. Who could ask for more?

Bocconotti
Bocconotti: These are Roman pasta frolla (Italian shortbread) pastries stuffed with ricotta, and baked.

Cosi di Ficu -- Traditional Sicilian Christmas Cookies with Figs
Cosi di Ficu -- Traditional Sicilian Christmas Cookies with Figs: Josephine writes, "I was wondering if you had a recipe for fig cookies ... I remember baking them with my grandmother especially around Christmas time. It was a sweet dough and we would fill them with figs, almonds and chocolate. An Italian bakery nearby makes this type of cookie at Christmas time --- but they are not the same. If you could dig a recipe up, I'd like to make it for my mom."

Basic Italian Cookie
Basic Italian Cookie: Many thanks to CEILW1 (that's her screen name), who very kindly posted this recipe on the Forum

Cannoli
One of the disadvantages of living in Tuscany is that we don't often encounter cannoli -- they're a Sicilian thing and really are worth a journey south to enjoy (during which one could work in other things as well, say a stop at the beaches of Taormina...). Many thanks to CEILW1 (that's her screen name), who very kindly posted this recipe on the Forum

Savoiardi
Savoiardi are a Piemontese specialty that resemble lady fingers, though they're about twice as thick. In addition to being eaten as is, they figure prominently in many desserts, including puddings and tiramisu. If you buy them in the store, be sure they're fresh because their shelf life is limited. They shouldn't be soft.

Majatiche ccu Meme 'I Ficu & Mustazzuoli
Majatiche ccu Meme 'I Ficu & Mustazzuoli: Michael writes, "My father's family came from Calabria and his mother used to make some cookies at Christmas time. We have been able to obtain some of the recipes but he has memories of two that we can't find. One is what he calls Torada (Not sure of the spelling) hard cookies made with like a bread dough with anise or fennel. The other is made, he thinks with honey and flour, deep fried then stored for a period of time until they get hard....

Ginetti
Still on the subject of Calabria, Bobbi writes, "I've been looking frantically for a recipe for Genetti. My uncle used to make them for me years ago. When he passed away, so did the recipe. I can't find one anywhere. I believe it is a Calabrese recipe, but I could be wrong. It is a large round donut shaped cooked, hole in middle, glazed with sugar. Great for dunking or eating plain....

Amaretti di Gavi
Amaretti di Gavi: Unlike Saronno's amaretti, which are macaroons, these are almond paste through-and-through, and extraordinarily chewy, with a long almondy aftertaste that really does perk up the day.

Sweet Fava Beans -- Fave Dolci
Sweet Fava Beans, or Fave Dolci: There are many versions of the Bones of the Dead, cookies Italians make for the Day of the Dead, November 2. This is Roman, and employs almonds.

Venetian Bones of the Dead -- Ossa da Morto
Venetian Bones of the Dead -- Ossa da Morto: There are many versions of the Bones of the Dead, cookies Italians make for the Day of the Dead, November 2. With respect to those of the other parts of Italy, the Bones of the Dead in the Veneto region are quite different: they're made from corn meal rather than wheat flour.

Beans of the Dead -- Fave dei Morti
Beans of the Dead, or Fave dei Morti: There are many versions of the Bones of the Dead, cookies Italians make for the Day of the Dead, November 2. This version is Lombard, and is made with almonds, pine nuts, and lemon.

Livorno's Fava Beans or Bones of the Dead -- Fave Livornesi o Ossa di Morto
Livorno's Fava Beans or Bones of the Dead -- Fave Livornesi o Ossa di Morto: There are many versions of the Bones of the Dead, cookies Italians make for the Day of the Dead, November 2. The Livornesi use almonds in theirs.

Ossa di Mortu -- Bones of the Dead
Ossa di Mortu, or Bones of the Dead: There are many versions of the Bones of the Dead, cookies Italians make for the Day of the Dead, November 2. This one is Sicilian, and made from the same almond paste used to make Easter lambs.

Bones of the Dead or Finocchietti -- Uosse de Mort o Finocchietti
Uosse de Mort o Finocchietti, Bones of the Dead or Finocchietti, finocchietti, bones, day of the dead, november 2, halloween

Bones of the Dead (For Chewing) -- Ossa di Morto (Ossa da Mordere)
Bones of the Dead (For Chewing), or Ossa di Morto (Ossa da Mordere): There are many variations on Bones of the Dead, the cookies Italians enjoy on November 2. This recipe is from Piemonte, and more specifically the cities of Biella, Vercelli and Novara.

Fiadoni di Ricotta -- Ricotta Fiadoni
This recipe is from the Abruzzo region. Fiadoni are especially popular at the end of the Panarda, the feast held to honor the patron saint.

Judy Francini's Ricciarelli, Illustrated
Ricciarelli are a Sienese Christmas treat, soft chewy almond macaroons with a dusting of powdered sugar, and, depending upon the pastry chef, either delicate bitter almond accents or bitter almonds accents with hints of orange. In either case they're rather like cherries, in that once you have eaten one you'll find yourself reaching for the next...

Judy Francini's Ricciarelli
Ricciarelli are a Sienese Christmas treat, soft chewy almond macaroons with a dusting of powdered sugar, and, depending upon the pastry chef, either delicate bitter almond accents or bitter almonds accents with hints of orange. In either case they're rather like cherries, in that once you have eaten one you'll find yourself reaching for the next...

Ricciarelli: Sienese Christmas Cookies
Terry asked for a recipe for ricciarelli, classic Sienese almond paste cookies that were once a Christmas delight but are now made year-round: There are lots of recipes, as you may have guessed. Most are industrial, but here's one that reduces the yield from 30 k to about 2. It calls for a scale but the results will be worth it (28 g = 1 ounce,...

Mostaccioli
Lynn wrote asking for "Mostachoulli, which are sold in bakeries during Christmas. They're glazed with chocolate and inside is a soft, chewy mixture of chocolate, figs, cinnamon, nuts and orange." I've never encountered these, but did find another mostaccioli recipe in Italian, for traditional cookies made with grape must during the fall. Since they didn't have an English translation, here we are:

Cavallucci
While we're on the subject of anise cookies, though Siena is best known for Panforte, a rich Christmas pastry made with almonds, honey, flour and candied fruit, the town's cooks have also been making solid, chewy anise cookies called cavallucci since at least the 16th century. The name means "little horses;" Giovanni Righi Parenti says they are a gentrified version of a pastry for the servants, and since they were originally made for those in the stables, that's where their name comes from.

Anicini
A long time back JD Wetherill wrote, asking for a soft, light anisette-flavored cookie galled genetti that the moms of friends used to make. Unfortunately I've drawn a blank; genetti don't appear in the indexes of any of my Italian cookbooks, nor do any of the things whose names sound similar look quite right. What I have found is a crunchy anisette-based biscotto, which would probably be softer if one were to forgo the rebaking (which is what biscotto means, twice cooked).

Neapolitan Christmas cookies -- Paste Reali
Naples has a long tradition of holiday baking. Ms. Francesconi, author of La Cucina Napoletana, recalls that when she was a girl her house would fill with "all the bounty of God." She presents recipes for quite a few Christmas cookies, most of which are quite intricate, and are the sorts of things that many will now buy ready-made from pastry shops (Italians scramble as much as anyone else these days…).

Chestnut Crunch -- Croccanti di Marroni
Something rather different, and not baked -- this recipe was published by Giovanni Vialardi in 1854, and derives from the mountains of Cuneo and the Val di Susa in Piemonte, where chestnuts were a staple winter food. The marrone (marron, for the French) is larger, much more highly valued than the regular chestnut.

Chestnut Cookies -- Biscottini di Marroni
This is an old, old recipe for chestnut cookies, drawn from Il Confetturiere Piemontese, which was published in 1790, and whose author suggested that the chestnuts be cooked in the hot ashes of the fire place.

Healthy Cookies -- Biscotti Della Salute
"Be happy, because with these cookies you'll never die, or at least you'll live as long as Methuselah did", wrote Artusi in introducing these. "Indeed, I eat them often; when I'm asked how old I really am by curious people who think I'm far more active than I should be at my age, I reply, "as old as Methuselah, son of Enoch 1."

Chewy Cookies -- Biscotti Teneri
Tasty chewy cookies from Artusi!

Crunchy Cookies -- Biscotti Croccanti
Artusi's Crunchy Cookies

About Biscotti
Biscotti are twice-cooked. The goal may have been long keeping, but the side effect is uniquely crunchy.

Almond Biscotti: Biscottini alla Mandorla
Stuart Borken's tasty almondy treats for the end of the meal -- assuming they last that long.

Cornetti & Brioches!
Pastries, and what could be better for breakfast?

Bruscandole
A rustic Piemontese sweet made with toast, sugar, spices, and wine.

Cleila's Cookies!
A pair of simple recipes from Daughter Clelia's daycare: A chilled cookie crumb roll, and lemony baked cookies.

Dalmatian Ring Cookies: Buzzolai
These are an essential part of every festivity in Dalmatia.

Expulsions: Sfratti
Honey-and-walnut biscotti for Rosh Hashanah.

Haroset
The Passover sweet that symbolizes the labors of slavery has many versions. This is from Padova.

Mandelbroit
Wonderful dipping cookies that invoke memories of simpler times.

Bones of the Dead: Ossa dei Morti
Sweets for The Day of the Dead (November 2), from Ancient Rome. About them and Artusi's recipe for them.

Almond Paste: Pasta di Mandorle
Almond paste makes delightful cookies, and also serves as icing in some cakes. Here's the recipe if you cannot find it ready made.

Cubbaita
An Arab precursor of nougat, made with honey, sesame seeds, and almonds.

Sicilian Easter Lambs and Almond Paste
Sicilians make several kinds of Easter lambs, the most glorious of which are made from Pasta reale, the almond paste made in Noble houses. Several recipes, and an explanation of how to make the almond paste. Scuplting and painting it? Practice and talent.

Nougat: Torrone
This is a classic Christmas treat made from almonds, honey, and egg whites.

Nougat with Almonds and Oranges
Another Sicilian variation on nougat, with lots of candied orange peel.

White Nougat: Torrone Bianco
A Sicilian variety of nougat with pistachios as well as almonds.

Cassadetti con la Ricotta
Smaller variations on the classic Cassata alla Siciliana, a sumptuous dessert made with pan di spagna and a rich ricotta-based filling (the cassata recipe is here too).

Three Sweet Ricotta Ravioli: Tre Ravioli Dolci alla Ricotta
Three more ricotta filled raviolo-like cookies, two from Lazio and the third from Calabria

Carol Pellegrinelli's Italian Dessert Page
Cassata, biscotti and a torta di ricotta, three Italian classics, from About.Com's baking guide.

Fante's Cannolo Forms
A company that offers cannoli forms in a couple of different sizes, and also thoughtfully gives a cannolo shell recipe on the page.

Fante's Pizzelle Irons
A company that sells them, along with most of the other ingredients and tools you'll need to make pizzelle, and also provides both care and cleaning instructions on the page, as well as a recipe. Handy!

La Lama Family Secrets
Fiadone, Easter breads, and much more; the bits of family history woven into the recipes make for fun reading.

Mostaccioli
"These are a chocolate spiced cookie that must rest overnight to develop their full flavor. They look rather ordinary on the plate, surrounded by fancy rolls, cornucopias, and multi-layered bar cookies, but one bite will confirm that this recipe is a keeper..." From La Lama Family Secrets

Spumoni Slices
Italian Christmas cookies from the Pastry Wiz

Sue's Grandmother's Wine Cookies
"Unusual cookies with a beautiful combination of flavors."

Savory Fennel Biscotti
"A classic from my mother's family" -- Sue.

Bitter Chocolate Coconut Squares Recipe - Cioccolatini Fondenti al Cocco
These bitter chocolate squares are extraordinarily easy to make, and this is a good thing, because they go remarkably fast. The Italian recipe...

Sbrisolona Veronese Recipe - An Almond Shortbread - Sbrisolona Veronese
Sbrisolona Veronese is a thin, crisp almondy shortbread that is served liberally sprinkled with grappa. The alcohol balances the richness of the shortbread, and the combination, while not for teetotalers, is surprisingly tasty and perfectly suited for chill weather. I was given the recipe by the folks at Il Calmiere, a very traditional veronese...

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