During the latter half of our Abruzzo culinary tour, we stayed at Agriturismo Il Portone, in the foothills of the Majella mountains. The place is run by a sweet young couple, Donatella and Giancarlo. Donatella can often be found in the kitchen baking chocolate tarts and cookies, which she sets out for breakfast.
I loved these little cookies made with olive oil, white wine and a touch of cinnamon, and enjoyed them every morning with my cappuccino. They’re called “tozzetti” from the word “tozzo,” which means “squat” or “stubby.” You can see why.
Donatella kindly shared the recipe and I made them as soon as I got home. She said that if you like, you can roll the dough out into ropes and form them into rings ~ in which case they become “tarallucci.” But I like the rustic look of these little nuggets. They’re light in texture, with a delicate crunch. Dip them in your morning coffee, or in a glass of wine as an after-dinner treat.
These rustic cookies, made with olive oil and wine, are light and crisp, with a delicate cinnamon flavor. I make the dough by hand rather than in a mixer. It's soft and pliable and easy to work with. If you want to get fancy, roll the dough into ropes and then form them into little rings. In either case, dip them in sugar before baking. This recipe is from Il Portone Agriturismo, in Abbateggio (PE).
- 3 cups "00" flour or unbleached all-purpose flour (see NOTE)
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for dipping
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Dump the mixture out onto a clean work surface and form it into a wide, shallow mound. Make a well in the center. Carefully pour the olive oil and wine into the well, and sprinkle in the baking soda.
With a fork, begin incorporating the dry ingredients into the wet, gradually adding in more of the flour mixture from the interior "wall." When the mixture is the consistency of thick batter, switch to using your hands to mix in more flour until you have a soft pliable dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly to form a ball of dough. It should be shiny (from the oil) and slightly tacky but not sticky. Sweep away any extra flour with a dough scraper. Cover the dough with a bowl and let stand for 5 minutes.
Cut off a piece of dough about the size of a small lemon and roll it into a rope about the width of your index finger, sprinkling the work surface with a little flour if necessary. Press down lightly on the rope to flatten it slightly. Use the dough scraper or a knife to cut the rope into 1-inch pieces.
Pour about 1/2 cup sugar into a shallow bowl. Dip the cookies, one at a time, in the sugar, coating them on all sides, and place them one inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Continue to roll, cut, and dip the cookies until you have done them all (about 30 per sheet).
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 15 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to cooling racks and let the cookies cool completely on the sheets. Store in a tightly lidded container or a cookie jar.
NOTE I recommend "00" flour because it is finely milled and readily absorbed by the liquid ingredients. All-purpose flour may be substituted but be sure to let the dough rest for 5 minutes as directed before rolling out the cookies.