Every Italian region has its own specialties, but surely Tuscany proposes a real triumph of Christmas biscuits, dried fruit cakes and sweets of all shapes.
Christmas is coming and to create a real Christmas atmosphere there is nothing better than cooking. L’Olivo Italiano presents 5 Italian Christmas Cakes typical of Tuscany to bring on your table its sweet flavors.
Panforte is a very old recipe made with spices and candied fruit. It comes from the oldest Panpepato, which at the time of the Medici (historical Florentine family) was considered a source of vigor and energy useful both in war and in love. The Panpepato unlike the Panforte, is covered with pepper and includes the addition of cocoa or chocolate mixture.
• Boil 450 grams of honey for 5 minutes and mix it with 450 grams of sugar.
• Turn off the heat and add the candied fruit cut into small pieces(500 grams of candied orange, 500 grams of candied citron and 500 grams of candied melon). Alway mix carefully, add 150 grams of white flour, half a tablespoon vanilla powder and powdered spices: a spoonful of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, coriander and cloves.
• Add 350 grams of whole almonds, 350 grams of whole hazelnuts, stir and pour into a mold lined with wafers.
• Put the mixture, which should have a thickness of 2 centimeters, and cook for half an hour at 180 degrees.
• Cover the cake with a dusting of icing sugar and serve cold.
Brigidini, are yellow-orange waffle very friable, flavour anise. They are made and sold during all the fairs and town festivals of Tuscany, releasing their unmistakable scent. It is said that some followers nuns of St. Bridget of Sweden (hence the name “brigidini”), for preparation of the hosts for Communion, decided one day to grant herself a “a sweet sin of gluttony” and added eggs, sugar and aniseed to the traditional recipe of the hosts.
Dose to about 30 brigidini
• Beat 3 eggs until they become frothy.
• Add 2/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of aniseed table.
• Knead the dough by adding 1 cup of cake flour, a pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla extract (optional) to make the skin smooth and soft dough.
• Reheat a mold for brigidini or dinner plates so that burn.
• Put a tablespoon of dough onto the plate, add another hot plate until the dough is cooked and crispy.
It is said that the sisters of Montecelso in Siena had the idea to pair two wafers and stuff them with an almond brittle to celebrate Christmas Eve. And so was born le copate: a brittle made with honey, walnuts and almonds enclosed between two wafers.
• Cook gently 400 g of honey and 375 g of sugar.
• After about half an hour, add 3 egg whites and cook until the sugar to caramelize.
• Combine 300 g of previously toasted and chopped almonds. When the mixture is still hot with a spoon take small portions and spread them on the hosts. Cover the dough with the other wafer and mashed well with your hands. Let cool and serve with a glass of Vin Santo (Italian dessert wine).
These cakes made with almonds, sugar and egg whites are perhaps the most famous sweets of Tuscan Christmas. It is said that they were introduced in Tuscany by Ricciardetto della Gherardesca returning back from the Crusades in Turkey. Usually they are soft and covered with powdered sugar, but there is also the dark version with chocolate inside.
Dose to about 20 ricciarelli
• Whisk 2 egg whites until stiff then, once mounted, add 200 grams of powdered sugar and 250 grams of almond flour, stirring from the bottom up with a wooden spatula.
• Add a tablespoon of almond aroma mixing thoroughly but gently then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
• Cut out 20 ovals from a A4 sheet of host (supplied by pastry shops) and sprinkle it with powdered sugar on a floured surface.
• Take back the dough and cut from this 20 balls and arrange them on the hosts. Mash slightly so as to cover the wafers then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
• Bake at 170 degrees for 15 minutes then remove from the oven ricciarelli WITHOUT hand contact.
• Let them cool and serve.
Also called pepini, these sweets made with candied fruit (orange and citron), walnuts, orange, anise seed, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are just perfect for the Christmas season!
• Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
• In a saucepan, melt 200 g of sugar with 100 g of honey (mixed flower and acacia honey) until you have a fairly thick syrup, but without caramelize the sugar that otherwise will make the dough hard and difficult to handle.
• Break up 8/9 nuts by hand or with a knife (please do not chop).
• Grind 2 teaspoons anise seeds and 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds and add the coffee in a bowl with nuts and 100 g of candied orange and citron cut into small pieces.
• Sprinkle well with nutmeg and cinnamon.
• Add 500 g of flour 00,with a packet of yeast and a pinch of baking soda, a pinch of salt and stir.
• When the sugar has melted, add the syrup into the bowl and stir the ingredients with the aid of a wooden spoon and then mixing with your hands. The dough should be very consistent but if necessary add a little milk.
• With this pasta prepared the big bullets just under an egg, mash in the center and place them on a baking sheet sprinkled with flour (still putting the baking paper on the base), bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes (they should not get coloured).
• Let them cool completely and pass them in powdered sugar.
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