Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Is it too late for cookies? Didn't think so. 

These are cookies that I fondly remember my grandmother (Dad's mom) making when I was a child.  They weren’t a Christmas cookie, as I remember, but one that she made all year round.  "Ciambella" is a wreath-shaped cake or bread.  Thus "ciambelline" are little "ciambelle." 

The dough is basically the same as for the typical Italian biscotti, though with a little more flour to stiffen them up.  I never made these when my grandmother was alive, and so I couldn’t ask her the details.  I do remember that they had a lemony flavor to them, and were quite dry, indicating that she had put in a fair amount of flour in the dough.  I don’t think this recipe makes a cookie as quite as dry as hers were.  I find them as delicate and tender as a madeleines.  Typical of Italian cookies, they’re not very sweet, though the sugar glaze that you top these with makes up for that.

6     eggs
1 ¼ c    sugar
1 c    oil
4 t    baking powder
2 t    vanilla
    grated rind of 1 lemon
    grated rind of 1 orange
1 T    lemon juice
5 c    flour

Beat all ingredients except flour in a mixer until well combined.  Add flour by the cupful until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Cover bowl, and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Pick up small portions of the dough and roll with your hands (oil them first to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands) into small ropes.  Fashion the ropes into small wreaths or knots.  Place on parchment-covered baking sheets.  Bake 14 minutes until just colored.  Cool completely on wire racks.

Make a sugar glaze: add water by the spoonful to 1 cup confectioner’s sugar and mix well until you have a smooth glaze.  Dip cookies into glaze and top with colored sprinkles.  Let dry until glaze is hardened completely.  Store in an airtight container.

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