~Recipes from Our Kitchen
Nociate e Nocchiate ~ Christmas Nut Biscotti
Serves 8 – 10
These nut-laden sweets are typical of the countryside around Rome. It used to be that all families had their own version that mammas and nonnas made every year. Now only few families follow this ancient tradition.
- 2 cups (500 g) walnuts
- 1 & ¼ cups (300 g) hazelnuts, roasted
- 1 & ¼ cups (300 g) almonds
- 3/4 cup (150 g) raisins
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 3 & ¼ cups (400 g) flour
- 1 cup (200 g) candied peel, chopped
- ½ cup honey, melted
- 2 tablespoons (50 g) cocoa powder
- 2 & ½ cups (500 g) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 & ¼ cups (300 g) plain chocolate, melted
- 1 tablespoon mixed spices (cinnamon & nutmeg etc.)
- Roughly chop the nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts & almonds – you want to leave large pieces, and some can even remain whole. Place all dry ingredients together in a large bowl: the nuts, pine nuts, candied
peel, raisins, flour, sugar & cocoa spices. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a fork then slowly add the honey and melted chocolate. Now add the dry ingredients and mix together gently. Using your hands, form small rounds of mixture and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in an oven preheated to 350° F for about 15 – 20 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Castagnole ~ Christmas Fritters
Serves 6 – 8
Castagnole are small soft balls, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. These traditional deep-fried sweets are usually not available during the rest of the year so they must be enjoyed while they last. They are widely enjoyed in Rome and in all central Italy over the Christmas period. Their name derives from the Italian word for chestnuts castagne, because they are similar in size and shape to a chestnut. They are very quick and easy to prepare, which is another reason to love them!
- 1 & ½ cups of ‘00’ flour
- Grated zest of half an organic lemon
- 1 tablespoon of aniseed liqueur
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- ½ tablespoon of baking powder
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 1 generous pinch of salt
- 2 medium eggs
- 1/3 stick of butter, softened
- Powdered sugar for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon rum (optional)
- Peanut oil for frying
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients (except the powdered sugar and peanut oil) together with your hands. Dust a work surface with flour and knead mixture until you have a soft and firm mixture.
Now, take handfuls of dough and form into logs, then cut them into pieces as big as a chestnut. Roll the pieces into small balls and fry in hot oil for 2-3 minutes turning with a spoon until golden brown, then remove from oil and drain on kitchen paper.
Sprinkle the powdered sugar on top and Buon appetito!
Tozzetti ~ Biscuits with Almonds
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup of sugar
- Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
- 10 ½ tbsp butter, melted
- 4 ½ tsp baking powder
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups of almonds with the skin, chopped in half
Preheat oven to 360° F. Beat the eggs with the sugar, add the grated zest, butter and almonds, then add the flour mixed with the baking powder a little at a time. Mix with hands until a soft dough forms. Shape the dough into four large logs and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, well spaced. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool and slice into 2 cm slices and returned them to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until they have a nice golden color. Cool before eating.