Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
I found these little braided cookies in a pasticceria in the very baroque city of Lecce in Puglia. The dough, which has just a hint of sweetness, is made with flour, olive oil and wine. I like these with a glass of chilled Moscato dessert wine.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen
2 1/2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
About 2/3 cups whole natural almonds
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons turbinado (coarse brown) sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets. In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the wine, oil, and water, and mix with a fork until a ball of dough begins to form. Alternatively, make the dough in a food processor; combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of the processor. Add the wine, oil, and water through the feed tube, pulsing until a dough begins to form.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead a few times, until smooth. (You should not need to add any flour.) The dough will be soft.
Pinch off 1-inch pieces of dough and roll each one under the palms of your hands into a 6-inch rope. To shape each cookie, braid two ropes together to form a twist, and place on the cookie sheets.
Insert 5 almonds in the folds of each twist, spacing them evenly. Brush the tops of the braids with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the braids are lightly browned. Remove the braids to wire racks to cool completely.
Note: These can be made larger or smaller as you wish. They can be frozen for up to 2 months in an airtight container.