Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Torcettini di Saint Vincent (Sugar Crusted Twisted Cookies from the Valle d’Aosta)


If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that I am in the Bread baking group started in Facbook by Aparna We Knead to Bake.
And actually this Torcettini di Saint Vincent (Sugar Crusted Twisted Cookies from the Valle d’Aosta)  but as unexpected things happen in ones life I coudn't make the bread in April.
So last week when I has time I made this yeasted cookies.
They are really so easy to make, and well less in calories than the other cookies I have made but delicious too.
And they do keep well in a airtight container, as even on the fourht day after making them they were good.
Torcettini are smaller versions of Torcetti (meaning small twists), and these pear/ teardrop shaped twists are made of a dough of flour, yeast and butter which are shaped and then rolled in sugar before being baked. These biscuits are synonymous with the town of Saint Vincent in Valle d'Aosta, a small mountainous region in North-Western Italy, even though they’re well known throughout the Piedmont region as well.

The origin of these biscuits is believed to be from Grissini (breadsticks) which were made from the leftover scraps of bread dough. According to one story, a Grissini baker had some leftover butter which he needed to use up. Inspiration struck and he decided to add the butter to the last batch of his Grissini dough for the day. To be able to differentiate this lot of “breadsticks”, he rolled them in sugar and shaped them into loops, and the Torcetti was born. Torcetti/ Torchettini taste even better when they’re flavoured with lime/ lemon zest or anise.

These biscuits are crunchy, not very sweet and pair very well with cold milk, hot chocolate, tea/ coffee or wine. They are delicious served warm and equally good cold, and keep very well if stored in airtight containers. Apparently, Queen Margaret, the wife of King Umberto I of Savoy loved these biscuits so much during her stay in Valle d'Aosta, that she gave her servants enough provisions to bake an abundant supply for her consumption.

Torcettini di Saint Vincent
(Adpated from A Baker’s Tour by Nick Malgieri)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup warm water, about 110F
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 tsp instant yeast)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder (if making chocolate torcettini)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lime/ lemon zest (replace with orange zest for the chocolate version)
40gm unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
about 1/3 cup sugar for rolling the cookies
Preparation:

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, in a small bowl and keep aside.
Put the flour and the salt in the food processor bowl (or a largish regular bowl if kneading by hand) and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is well mixed and the flour-butter mixture looks powdery.
If making chocolate Torcetti, remove 2 tbsp all-purpose flour and add the 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder mentioned in the recipe. Don’t add the lemon zest/ anise. Use orange zest and maybe add 1/ 2 tsp instant coffee powder with the flour.
Add the yeast-water mixture and pulse till it all comes together as a ball. Do not over process or knead. Place the ball of dough in a oiled bowl, turning it so it is well coated with the oil. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise quite a bit.
This dough does not really double in volume, but it should look “puffy” after about an hour or so. When you pinch off a bit from the top you can see the interior looking a bit like honeycomb. Press down the dough and deflate it, wrap it in cling warp and refrigerate it for at least one hour or up to 24 hours. (I did just for a hour)

When ready to make the cookies, take the dough out and lightly roll it out into an approximately 6” square. If the dough feels sticky, scatter a little sugar on it. Using a pizza wheel cut the dough into four strips of equal width. Cut each strip into 6 equal pieces, by cutting across, making a total of 24 pieces. The measurements are not very critical in this part because this just makes it easier to have 24 equal sized bits of dough, as compared to pinching of bits of the dough.
Roll each piece into a pencil thick “rope” about 5” long. Sprinkle a little sugar on your work surface and roll the “rope” in it so the sugar crusts the dough uniformly. Form the “rope” into a loop crossing it over before the ends.
Place the Torcettini on parchment lined baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2" between them. Leave them for about 20 minutes or so till they rise/ puff up slightly. Don’t worry, they will not “puff up” much.
Bake them at 160C (325F) for about 25 minutes till they’re a nice golden brown. Cool the cookies completely, on a rack. Store them in an air-tight container at room temperature.
 

7 comments:

Gloria Baker said...

Finla ehat beautiful and special cookies!:)

indosungod said...

I have been seeing then in a quite a few blogs. Tasty.

Bombay-Bruxelles said...

They look so cute, especially the parts where the sugar is a bit caramelized :-)

Angie Schneider said...

How adorable and pretty are these cookie! So are these photos, Finla.

Apu said...

They look beautiful!

Priya Suresh said...

Cuties, and love those sugar..stunning torcettini.

Akila said...

Looks great