Sicilian Christmas Cookies
makes about 48
These old-fashioned Sicilian twists, called infasciadedde in Italian, are a Christmas speciality.
Read more about this recipe at the Washington Post.
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange zest
6 ounces (about 1/1/2 cups) whole almonds, preferably unblanched
1/2 cup honey, plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sliced almonds for garnish
prep: 25 minutes
total: 55 minutes
2 rimmed baking sheets
parchment paper or aluminum foil
1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse 3 or 4 times to mix. Add the butter and process 10 to 15 seconds or until it is finely mixed into the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and zest. Pulse a few times, until a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.
3. For the filling: Place the almonds in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the honey and cinnamon and pulse just to mix. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
4. Shape the dough into a fat cylinder and divide in half. Re-flour the work surface and one of the pieces of dough, flattening it into a rough square. Roll out the dough, moving it frequently and adding pinches of flour under and on it to keep it from sticking, to a 12-inch square.
5. Use a pizza wheel to cut the dough into 8 equal strips, each 1 1/2 inches wide.
6. Spray your hands with cooking spray or rub with butter, then take about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling and roll it between your hands while stretching until it becomes a 12-inch rope.
7. Lay the filling in the middle of one of the strips of dough. Fold the dough over the filling lengthwise, but don't press together.
8. Cut the cylinder into three 4-inch lengths and twist each one once or twice (they should look like barber poles) before placing on one of the prepared pans.
9. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough and filling; repeat the process with the second chilled piece of dough. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until light golden in color. Slide the papers from the pans to wire racks to cool the cookies completely.
10. When ready to serve, arrange the cookies on a platter. Drizzle them with honey and sprinkle with some of the sliced almonds.