Twisted Cookies from the Val d’Aosta (Torcettini di Saint Vincent)

Twisted Cookies from the Val d’Aosta (Torcettini di Saint Vincent)

These yeast-risen cookies are a cross between a bread stick and a caramelized puff pastry palmier. The cookies are crunchy – you can easily tell this by their look. But they are not that hard so deciduous wiggly teeth of your precious little ones (and mine too :) couldn’t manage. These torcettini are not tiny, each about 3 inches long; but how naïve I was assuming that two cookies per kid would be enough (we were taking them to a play date into a large group of youngsters). The cookies were in such demand, every kid wanted the third, and fourth… so there was not enough to satisfy everyone’s appetite.

The recipe is from Nick Malgieri’s “A Baker’s Tour”. And if the kids opinion doesn’t always count (let’s be honest :), the one of the Queen of Italy, I believe, does. Queen Margherita liked the cookies in one pastry shop so much that she knighted the owner on the spot. A certificate attesting to this still hangs in the pastry shop in Saint Vincent.

Makes 48 cookies


  • 1 cup warm water, about 110F
  • 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into tablespoons
  • About 2/3 cup sugar for rolling the cookies


Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl, stir to dissolve the yeast. Cover and set aside until needed.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the flour and salt a couple of times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the the butter is finely mixed in but the mixture is still powdery. Add the yeast mixture all at once, and pulse until the ingredients form a ball.

Put the dough into a greased bowl, turning the dough over so that the top is greased as well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it is doubled in bulk, about an hour.

After the dough has risen, press it down to deflate it. Chill for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Cover two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set aside.

When you are ready to form the cookies, remove the dough from the refrigerator and press it into 8-inch square. Scatter some of the sugar on the work surface if the dough is sticky.

Cut the square of dough into eight 1-inch stripes. Cut each strip into 6 equal pieces, to make 48 pieces total.

Roll a piece of the dough on a sugared surface under the palms of your hands to make a pencil-thick strand about 5 inches long. Form a loop by crossing over the ends about 1 inch up from the ends.

As the torcettini are formed, place them on the prepared pans, leaving about 1 ½ inches space around the cookies. Let the cookies stand at room temperature until they puff slightly, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 325F. Bake the cookies, in batches, until they are light and the sugar has caramelized to a light golden crust, about 25 minutes. Turn the cookies back to front after first 15 minutes of baking. If your oven gives strong bottom heat, stack 2 pans together to provide insulation.

Cool the cookies on a rack. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature. Although, I found them best the day they were baked.

Twisted Cookies Collage

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29 Responses to “Twisted Cookies from the Val d’Aosta (Torcettini di Saint Vincent)”

  1. Yummy! Haven’t tried these before, but I can tell I would like them.

  2. The cookies look wonderful, I like the fact that they are traditional and made with yeast :)

  3. Wow! These must be delicious! I hope I could try them some day. Thank you very much for this recipe.

  4. What a wonderful complement when kids want more! Adults too. :)
    These look like they would be wonderful taken with coffee! yum

  5. “a cross between a bread stick and a caramelized puff pastry palmier” sounds like heaven to me! Plus if they’re aprouved by both kids and the queen alike, I think we have ourselves a winner!

  6. Wow…approved by the Queen of Italy herself, AND the world’s harshest food critics(the children). These must be real good!!

  7. I am hearing of these for the first time. They look so tempting. A great snack idea, for kids and adults alike.

  8. I’ve never heard of yeast in cookies before, but they look amazing, so I’m going to have to give them a try!

  9. These look wonderful Vera. They will be on my list of items to bake in the upcoming (cooler) months.

  10. Cute ones, Vera.

  11. I could have easily eaten the whole batch! The cookies look adorable and sound delicious!!

  12. Vera,
    Cookies look so good. I have Nick’s other book “the Perfect Cake”. I wonder if I should buy this “Baker’s Tour book? Are all of his recipe in this book work and turn out well?

    In the mean time, I will try this cookies and let you know the result!

  13. you had me at “carmelized puff pastry,” for what could be better? i love the shape of the cookies, and the ingredients ensure that they’ll be absolutely delicious. very cool. :)

  14. These are the sort of cookies I just love with a big cup of coffee. I don’t think two would be enough for me either. :)

  15. Thank you very much everyone who stopped by. I truly appreciate every single comment. Thank you for your kind words!

    Elra, I haven’t made all recipes from this book :) But the recipes that I tried from this and other Malgieri’s books worked just fine. I think he is quite reliable :)
    I would recommend you to visit a bookstore and have a look on your own before buying it though.

  16. these are such funky little pastries. definitely looks way cooler than the palmier – ok actually i think i like them with equal passion! :D xx

  17. Thanks Vera for your comment on my Blog Fight issue! What a mess. And people can be truly hurtful!
    These cookies are great…tint the dough pink and you would have breast cancer awareness cookies!

  18. Dear Vera, these cookies look excellent and very special! I’ll definitely give them a try.

  19. Not only do the cookies look fantastic but I love the shape. They look like awareness ribbons – gorgeous.

  20. They look fabulous and so nicely done. And if they’re kid-friendly, they have to be good. I find that kids are so picky when it comes to cookies.

    Beautiful cookies!

  21. Diva, thank you!

    Leslie, thank you. Now when you mentioned I do see a resemblance.

    Miri, thank you very much! I’ll be very glad if you try them.

    Giz, thanks a lot. They do look like the awareness ribbon. I hadn’t noticed it until Leslie pointed.

    Jacque, thank you! I find kids can be picky about any food :)

  22. these look really nice. They re ideal as a gift. hmmmm

  23. Natalie, thank you very much! Yes, they are not fragile, therefore, not difficult to transport.

  24. The internet certainly has everything… I had cookies very similar to these when i was in France, and loved them of course. Cant wait to try making them myself!

  25. These were delicious! I enjoyed making them and everyone else enjoyed eating them.

  26. i would add some cinnamon to half of the sugar…as another variation…

  27. FAntastic recipe, thank you. I added a teaspoon of orange oil/extract to the dough and a teaspoon of cinnamon to the sugar…same cookie but a different flavour (or two!)

  28. Colin, thank you for your feedback. I’m glad you liked them.

  29. Hi Vera, I tried the recipe and we at home loved it. You see the pics of he cookie here in my blog . Thank you for sharing the recipe :)

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