Che buono! (so good!)
Dry? Hard? Not sweet enough? In defense of the Italian cookie
Despite our country's romance with all things Italian, it seems there is a serious gap when it comes to Italy's colorful, diverse repertoire of cookies. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
3. Beat the egg whites and water with a fork in a small bowl; set aside.
4. Divide chilled dough into four portions. Roll each section into a log about 1-inch thick; cut the log into 1 1/2-inch sections. Dip each section in the egg whites, then roll in the sesame seeds, covering all sides. Place cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. (Do not overbake; check the bottom of the cookies.) Cool cookies on wire rack. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks, and freeze well too.
Note: Butter or oil will give these cookies a softer center; lard will make them crunchier.
Per serving: 139 calories, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 34 mg cholesterol, 16 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 43 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.
Pine nut-fig cookies
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes per batch
Makes: About 30 cookies
Note: These cookies could be considered the bridge between Italian and American tastes that pastry chef Emily Luchetti mentions. Traditional Italian ingredients — pine nuts, figs and cornmeal — meld with an American approach (courtesy of the chewy goodness from generous amounts of butter and brown sugar). This recipe is adapted from Luchetti's book, "The Fearless Baker."
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup white cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon each: baking soda, kosher salt
1/2 cup dried figs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pine nuts in one layer in a small baking pan; bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes (check after 10 minutes, being careful not to overbake). Cool; coarsely chop. Set nuts aside.
2. Pour melted butter in a medium bowl; add the brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla, stirring until well combined. Stir in the egg and egg yolk. Add the flour, cornmeal, baking soda and salt, stirring until combined. Stir in the figs and reserved pine nuts.
3. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven. Put 2-tablespoon mounds of dough 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. (A small ice cream scoop can be useful here.) Bake until the cookies are golden-brown, about 12 minutes, rotating pans midway through baking, if you wish. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
Nutrition information :
Per cookie:147 calories, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 21 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 59 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.