20 November 2010

Chef Lidia Bastianich: Easy Italian Christmas Cookie Recipes

Chef Lidia Bastianich shares Italian holiday cookies from her childhood.

From Denny: Chef and restaurateur, Lidia Bastianich, shares some of her favorite childhood holiday treats. These traditional Italian sweets are a big hit come holiday season, suitable for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Lidia's fun recipes are Fried Ribbon Cookies where you make up a sweet dough in the food processor, roll it out, slice into strips, tie into festive ribbons and drop to deep fry in hot oil, then dust with tasty powdered sugar.

Pine nut cookies are another traditional Italian sweet well loved during the holiday season. Both recipes come from her latest cookbook that is also her first children's book of kid friendly easy recipes: “Nonna Tell Me a Story.”

This video is cute because she has her granddaughter on the set rolling out the cookie dough and tying it into ribbons. Chef Lidia fries the cookies and it's one of those warm memories the granddaughter will have when she grows up of she and her grandmother making Christmas cookies together.

*** Check out Holiday Recipes From Dennys Food and Recipes

If video does not load, go here.

Fried Ribbon Cookies (crostoli)

From: Chef Lidia Bastianich, "Nonna Tell Me a Story"


6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) very soft unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Finely grated zest of a lemon, about 2 teaspoons
Finely grated zest of an orange, about 2 tablespoons
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
6 to 8 cups vegetable oil for frying, or as needed
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, or as needed


1. Blend butter, sugar, and salt in the food processor. Add milk, egg and yolk, citrus juices and citrus zests and process everything together until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, dump in all of the flour, and process in pulses until the dough comes together. Clean the bowl again and pulse a few more times to mix thoroughly.

2. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly into a soft smooth ball. If it is sticky, knead in more flour in small amounts. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (You can keep it refrigerated up to 1 day but let it return to room temperature before rolling.)

3. Cut the chilled dough in half and work with one piece at a time. Flatten the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to a rough square shape, approximately 16 inches on a side. Trim the edges of the square and with a fluted cutter, divide it into 10 strips, about 1½ inches wide. Cut across all the strips in the middle to form 20 ribbons, each about 7 inches long (though they shrink after you cut them). One at a time, tie each ribbon into a simple overhand knot. (When tying the crostoli, leave the knot very loose so there will be a gap for tying a ribbon for hanging once they are fried.) If necessary, stretch the ends gently so they’re long enough to knot. Place the knotted crostoli on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper, leaving room between them so they don’t stick to each other. Roll out the second piece of dough; cut and tie the same way.

4. Meanwhile, pour vegetable oil in the pan to a depth of 2 inches. Set over medium heat to gradually reach frying temperature. When you’re ready to start frying, raise the heat and test the oil by dropping in a scrap piece of dough: the fat should bubble actively around the dough, but it shouldn’t get dark quickly. (If you have a frying thermometer, heat the oil to 350° F. And be sure to use long-handled tools, hot pads, and caution when deep frying.)

5. Using long-handled tongs, quickly drop the first batch of crostoli into the fryer — raise the heat to return the oil to the frying temperature. Don’t crowd the cookies — fry only 10 or 12 at a time in a 10-inch diameter pan. The cookies will first drop to the bottom but will soon float to the surface. Turn them frequently with tongs and a spider or slotted spoon, to cook evenly.

6. Fry the crostoli for 4 minutes or so, as they color gradually to dark gold. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature and prevent rapid browning. When crisp and golden all over, lift them from the oil with a spider or spoon, drain off the oil, then lay them on layers of paper towels to cool. Fry the remaining crostoli in batches the same way. Store in a sealed cookie tin or plastic container and keep them dry. To serve, pile the crostoli on a serving plate in a heaping mound. Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small mesh sieve and dust generously over the cookies.

Pine Nut Cookies (Amaretti con pignoli)

From: Chef Lidia Bastianich, "Nonna Tell Me a Story"


1 pound canned almond paste
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large egg whites
1 cup pine nuts (optional)
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, or as needed (optional)


1. Arrange one rack in the upper third of the oven and the other in the lower third. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Crumble the almond paste into a mixing bowl. Beat with a handheld electric mixer until finely crumbled. Sprinkle the sugar over the almond paste and continue to beat until the sugar is incorporated. Beat in the egg whites, one at a time and continue beating until the batter is smooth.

3. If using the pine nuts, spread them out on a plate. Pinch off a tablespoon-size piece of dough and roll between your palms to form a ball. Roll the ball in pine nuts or just place it on the baking sheet if you want plain cookies. Repeat with the remaining dough.

4. Bake the cookies until lightly browned and soft and springy, about 20 minutes. Remove and cool completely on wire racks before serving. The cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week and are delicious with or without pine nuts.

The plain cookies can also be dusted with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

*** Check out Holiday Recipes From Dennys Food and Recipes

*** THANKS for visiting, feel welcome to drop a comment or opinion, enjoy bookmarking this post on your favorite social site, a big shout out to awesome current subscribers – and if you are new to this blog, please subscribe in a reader or by email updates!

*** Come by for a visit and check out my other blogs:

*** Check out Holiday Recipes From Dennys Food and Recipes

The Social Poets - news, politics
The Soul Calendar - science, astronomy, psychology
Visual Insights - photos, art, music
Beautiful Illustrated Quotations - spiritual quotes, philosophy
Best Spiritual Posts
Poems From A Spiritual Heart - poetry
The Healing Waters - health news
Dennys People Watching - people in the news
Dennys Food and Recipes
Dennys Funny Quotes - humor
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Ratings and Recommendations by outbrain