Sunday, 7 February 2016

Carnival Cookies!

Chiacchiere al Forno, alla Francesco
Francesco's Baked "Chiacchiere" or "Carnival Cookies"

I love "chiacchiere"- these super simple but oh-so-nice little cookies that are made traditionally during the week of carnival all over Italy... the only thing is- they are usually deep-fried.

And what is the big problem with deep-frying? Well, obviously, the calories involved in the end result... but that's not really a problem for me with things that I only eat once a year... it is just that for a single serving like this, just one plateful- quite frankly- I am loathe to start boiling up loads of oil to make them.

And so... I decided to bake them!

The thing with chiacchiere is that they should be thin and lighter-than-air and crispy- then have that coating of powdered sugar that makes your tongue tingle! And the typical flavors of citrus zest and sweet marsala have to be there of course... so they are basically pretty easy to make! let me show you how I made mine smile emoticon

For 1 plateful of chiacchiere (I do live alone!) I needed 125g of flour, 10g of sugar, 10g of butter, 1 egg, the zest of 1 lemon & 1 mandarine, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 shot glass of marsala. That was all and was enough for a little test... the only other thing I needed was just over 1 hour in all to prepare and bake them- and some powdered sugar to dust them with when they were finished.

There is a lot more zest and marsala in my version and less butter proportionally- so, lower fat and higher flavor! Sounded like a good idea to me- and thankfully, the result proved me right!

Ok- I messed up the photo, because I bumped against the side of my bowl... but still! Either in a bowl, or on your work surface, create a well in the flour and add the sugar, baking powder and zest. oh- and as always- even though I forgot to mention it earlier- a little pinch of salt.

Next, crack the egg into a bowl and whisk it together with the marsala- no need to fuss- just use a fork and you will be fine.

Now, add the egg mixture and the room-temperature butter and begin to pinch the flour together into a dough, then knead into shape for 3-4 minutes.

Once you have your dough together and have gathered up all the flour in the bowl- you are done... and even though you may think that YOU need a rest- it is the dough that needs to rest for a while now!

No rest for the wicked! Wrap the dough in cling film and pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes. In the meantime, turn on the oven to get it ready and hot... and do your washing up!

Once the dough has rested, dust off your work surface and roll it out nice and thinly- mine was almost as thin as a credit card! (proud!)

Using a crinkle-edged cutter, cut the dough into strips of about 2" wide and make a little cut just in the middle- like so.

Now, take one end of the dough, thread it through the slit in the middle and lay it out flat on the other side... like so!

Continue until you have used up all of your dough and don't worry! They are not meant to all be identical!

Bake at 180-190°C for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden brown, crispy... and soooo aromatic!

And once they are cool enough- at least 10 minutes later, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy! It's as simple as that! Now... have you got the coffee ready?

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