Sunday, 8 January 2012
La Pioggia nel Pineto ( Dangerously Delicious Pine Nut Italian Biscotti and memories...)
Some of the "goodies" I made for Christmas: Cookies, English mince pies
and, bottom left: struffoli, from Campania (recipe to follow next month
when it's Carnival time in Italy, France and Spain!)
I will never forget the smell of pine trees, as I walked out school, as a little girl, in Italy. My school was opposite our Parrocchia (church) in the middle of a piazza. The only other building on the piazza (we called it "I giardini") was a little newsstands. It's still there...
On the way home we would often stop outside and play. Inevitably, I would touch the trunk of one of the many old pine trees ( they are all still there, too...) and, inevitably, my fingers would get covered in resin... I remember it was so sticky, even more than honey, but the smell was "delicious" and I could smell it all the way home. I LOVE that smell!
Mediterranean Pine trees in Italy
I will never forget the day our mum gave us a huge pine cone and told my brother Mimmo and I, to look for the treasure inside... As we "peeled" the cone, little nuts, enclosed into a hard, powdery black case, jumped out. We cracked every single one of them, only to find precious, juicy little "pearls" that nature had made all by itself, for our delight.
I love the smell of pine! It was smell of Christmas, the smell of joy and of happiness the smell of small, precious gifts which make life so special and unique to each and every one of us.
Like my mum had done when I was little, my husband bought a gift of pine nuts... a whole huge bag of the precious pearls. I opened the bag and tasted just one: so soft, dense, nutty and enriched with memories of days past.
I won't lie: 800g was eaten by me, a little handful or two, each day. With each mouthful I would savour a taste of my childhood. The last 200 g, I used to make him his favourite cookies: Biscotti ai pinoli. And they were good!
So, here is my recipe:
Biscotti ai Pinoli
(Pine Nut Biscuits)
(about 25 biscuits)
60 (21/2 oz) cane sugar
220 (8 oz) flour
70 ml (about 3 fl oz) olive oil
200 ( 7 oz) pinoli (pine nuts-kernels)
zest of 1 lemon
1 bag Vanillina
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbs liquor (Limoncello, Marsala, Grand Marnier or whatever you fancy!)
Preheat oven (180 C, 350 F, Gas 4)
Place your flour onto a board or clean surface, make a well in the middle, add all the other ingredients, including your lovely pine kernels, and work into a soft dough.
This is my Bertolini Vanilla I "import" from Italy
With the help of a rolling pin, roll out the dough, then, using a round 5 cm (2'') cutter, start making your biscuits, by cutting out rounds about 1 cm thick.
1) my gorgeous pine nuts 2) My biscuit dough, ready to be "cut" 3) My biscotti are ready!
Place onto a previously greased and floured baking tray and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Make sure your biscuits don't burn, as they will taste bitter if they do.
I sprinkled icing sugar and lovely tiny pink sugar cubes all over my biscotti
This quantity made about 25 truly delicious biscuits ( I think!) They were very easy to make and looked gorgeous after I sprinkled some icing sugar and tiny little pink sugar cubes all over them! And they looked really "sexy!"
... with a nice cup of "Caffe` corretto" (That means it has Sambuca in it!)