Santa’s Cinnamon Cookie

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Christmas eve is finally here! How many of us have been longing for this day to arrive, each passing hour accented by the scent of vanilla cookies baking, the surprise in opening a new window of our advent calendar, and that manic joy of wrapping a bottomless pit of presents whilst humming carols? My advise, from a Christmas celebration enthusiast to you, is to shameless enjoy this magical time, indulge, give, share and receive with glee, it is only once a year after all. And, of course, make sure you leave a good supply of home-made cookies for the Old Fella himself! Word has it that he is an avid consumer of cinnamon cookies, and so these russet, spiced beauties await his arrival…

And so do I.

Merry Christmas to all! xxx

INGREDIENTS, makes 12-16

100 gr (3/4 cups) icing sugar, plus more for dusting

150 gr (2/3 cups) of soft butter

150 gr (1 cup and 1/3) of self raising flour, 100 gr (3/4 cup) of plain flour

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste

1 tablespoons of ground cinnamon

1-2 tablespoon of milk (optional)

cinnamon sugar for dusting on top

HOW TO

1. Work the icing sugar and butter together until creamy and smooth (you can do it by hand or using a standing mixer)

2. When the mixture is creamy, add the flour, 1 table-spoon of corn starch, a teaspoon of vanilla paste and the cinnamon. If the dough is too dry, add 1-2 tablespoon of milk.

3. The cookie dough will look and feel sticky. Use a spatula to scrape it onto a sheet of baking paper. Roll it up in the shape of a sausage and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.

4. Once it’s rested and feels firm, slice it up into  1/2 cm rounds and  put them back in the fridge for 10 minutes.

5. Bake at 170 C, 340 F,  for about 15 minutes, or until the edges start to color. Cool at room temperature. Dust with cinnamon sugar and and serve with a tall glass of milk and a note to Santa…

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X’mas Hazelnut Cookies (Dolcetti alle Nocciole)

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The Christmas season is heralded in my house with the inebriating smell of sweet treats baking in the oven, may they be my almond pastries, favoured by my boys for their resemblance with Rudolph’s red, shiny nose, or my dad’s morsel of choice, soft hazelnut cookies. These rustic looking nuggets are simply irresistible and they can happily carry you throughout your busy festive day: perfectly dunked in your morning coffee, afternoon tea or after dinner digestivo, they are sure to become your new best friend. The fact that they are rolled and baked in under 30 minutes will make them highly addictive…You are warned!

INGREDIENTS, makes 20

2 egg whites

1 cup of hazelnut meal (ground hazelnuts)

1-1/2 cup of icing sugar, plus more for rolling the cookies in

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, or the seeds from half vanilla bean

HOW TO

1. Heat up your oven to 180 C (350 F)

2. Mix egg whites, gournd hazelnut, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl until a thick paste forms.

3. Pinch off small bits of paste to shape balls the size of a large walnut.

4. Generously roll the balls in plenty of icing sugar.

5. Place the cookies, well distanced apart, onto an oven tray lined with baking paper.

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6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cracked and beautifully puffed up.

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Cool at room temperature and merrily consume with glee.

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Egg-free Oat and Chocolate cookies

As I start typing this post, I need to stop, reach into the cookie tin and help myself to my third one… They are that good!

Make sure you have a nice Cappuccino or Earl Gray tea to dunk them in…

This recipe is so easy and the absence of eggs is not, by any means, my attempt to subscribe to some fashionable fad diet.

I simply didn’t have any in the fridge and I was too lazy to go but them at the shop.

Turns out, cookies don’t necessarily need eggs.

Cream 1/2 cup of soft butter with 1/2 a cup of packed brown sugar,a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste.

In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 a cup of rolled oats, 3/4 of self-raising flour and a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Add the buttery mix to the dry ingredients, along with 80 gr of roughly chopped up chocolate ( I used left-over chocolate eggs) and, if too dry and floury, pour in a table-spoon of milk, bearing in mind that this dough should stay rather firm.

Pout the dough in the fridge for 10 minutes, then, with wet hands, divide it into 10 balls and place them, well distanced,  onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Gently flatten the balls with the back of your hand. Place tray back in the fridge for a further 10 minutes.

In the meantime bring up your oven to 175 Celsius (around 350 Farenheit).

Bake for around 15 minutes, to until slightly golden, but still soft in the middle. As they cool down, they will crunch up a little.

I will concede this cookie recipe is not traditional Italian, but the way my children gathered around the cooking bench to help me make them, and the way they both ended up covered in chocolate and flour is indeed a traditional Italian Sunday Mess!

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