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.