Although these puffy sugar coated yeasted cookies would be delicious with the espresso shown in the photo below, I would love to make them again and serve an Italian dessert wine such as bubbly Asti or a Moscato. In fact, when I go to Italy this summer, I will remember to stop at a cafe and do just that! It is said the cookie origin came about by accident when a grissini baker had some dough left over to which he added butter. Instead of shaping them as long slender sticks, he rolled them in sugar and shaped them in a loop.
Torcettini was the baking challenge for April in our Facebook group, We Knead to Bake. Aparna, creator and admin of the group chose Torcettini di St. Vincent, a diversion from the yeasted breads we have been making for the last four months. Aparna gives step-by-step instructions with photos along with the recipe on the above link. The cookies were fun to make, but are best eaten the day they are made as if covered overnight, the cookies soften. I would consider either trying to halve this recipe or invite your friends over for coffee, tea or wine and making a party of it. To learn more about shaping the torcettini, this video is helpful.Torcettini di St Vincent
Torcettini di St Vincent
Original Recipe from A Baker's Tour
- 1/2 cup warm water, about 110° F
- 1-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (if making chocolate torcettini)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon lime/lemon zest (replace with orange zest for the chocolate version) I used lemon zest and a few drops of lemon bitters for the white version and 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder for the chocolate version
- 40 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- about 1/3 cup sugar for rolling the cookies
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside.
- Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor (or a large bowl if kneading by hand).Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is well-mixed and the flour-butter mixture looks powdery.
- If making the chocolate torcettini, remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and add the cocoa powder. Omit the lemon zest/anise and add the optional 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder with the flour.
- Add the yeast-water mixture and pulse until it all comes together as a ball. Do not over process or knead. Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, turning it so it is well-coated with the oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise quite a bit. The dough does not really double in volume, but it should look puffy after about an hour or so. When you pinch off a bit from the top you can see the interior looking a bit like honeycomb. Press down the dough and deflate it, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 24.
- When read to make the cookies, take the dough out an dlightly roll it out into approximately 6-inch squares. If the dough feels sticky, scatter a little sugar on it. Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into four strips of equal width. Cut each strip into 6 equal pieces by cutting across, maing a total of 24 equal pieces. It's easier to have 24 equal pieces rather than trying to pinch off bits of dough.
- Roll each piece into a pencil thick rope about 5 inches long. Sprinkle a little sugar on your work surface and roll the rope in it so the sugar crusts the dough uniformly. Form the rope into sloop crossing it over before the ends
- Place the torcettini on parchment lined baking sheets, leaving 1-1/2 inches between them. Leave them to slightly rise/puff for about 20 minutes.
- Bake them at 325°F for about 25 minutes until they are a nice golden brown. Cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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