A Christmas double chocolate biscotti takes center stage on our Christmas biscotti tray. It is an old family recipe that is made only for holidays and special events. I could not imagine Christmas with out pizzette, it would be a very sad family gathering. The only problem is stopping everyone from eating them before our family dinner of speghetti with anchovy sauce and mixed fried fish.
Pizzetts are a double chocolate biscotti, scented with spices, roasted almonds, orange zest, coffee and chocolate chips. They are one of the biscotti attractions on our cookie trays for Christmas and every special event. You can make these cookies in advance and freeze them for up to 2 months unfrosted.
Chestnut fettuccine with toasted pignoli nuts and sage bring out the pasta’s smoky and rustic flavor. Chestnut fettuccine compliments grilled venison and turkey and adds a new dish to your holiday dinner.
Chestnut flour has a very strong flavor and you may want to experiment with different amounts of flour.
You ask, what could be more decadent, and I say absolutely nothing. Cartellate are traditionally made during Christmas. They are traditional Pulgiese fried pastries, filled with roasted almonds, honey, spices and chocolate.
They are a holiday cookie and although mostly made at Christmas time, they are our star dessert on our Thanksgiving table. They just seemed so suited to a beautiful Thanksgiving dessert table.
These cookies are a labor of love and not easy to make, but the good news is that you can place the shells in a brown paper bag and keep some for Christmas.
The preparation of the “Torta di Biscotto di Nozze” is by far one of the most important jobs of all in Italian weddings. Members of the family prepare biscotti for weeks for that important day. Layers of different biscotti are arranged in a pyramid and decorated with icing covered with "Confetti" and ribbons - it sits in a place of honor on the main table.
We always have some Italian dishes during our holidays. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Easter, there is always ravioli on our table as a first dish. We would set up an assembly line with all of us pitching in to make hundreds of them before Thanksgiving so that we could have them for Christmas also. They freeze very well, but don’t ever defrost them before cooking them, just put them into a large amount of salted boiling water directly from the freezer.
A friend on Foodbuzz was looking for a way to use Ficoco - fig jam with cocoa. In Italy sugar was expensive to produce so many things were made with jams or mosto cotto (grape syrup) to sweeten cakes, cookies etc. Itlians have many jam filled cookies and ficoco would be perfect for raviolo dolci, in fact figs were also used to make mosto cotto. A recipe we make during holidays, Ravioli Dolci is a great way to use different jam fillings and make your cookie different everytime.
A traditional cake/bread made at Christmas time, panettone was created in the Lombardy region and it is the undisputable holiday favorite. Scholars have traced panettone back to the middle ages. The dome shaped sweet bread is traditionally made with candied fruits, raisins and flavored with liquors. Today you can find it with chocolate chips and other ingredients. It is less like a cake then light fluffy sweet bread. The use of natural yeast results in the dough that rises slowly. The rising time can be as long as 48 hours. The long leavening contributes to the long shelf life, which can be as long as 6 months. Italian bakers take pride in the age of their leavening and some are maintained over many years.
I spent my summers on Cape Cod where there were cranberry bogs in our back yard. After the harvest was over there were often many berries just lying on top of the bog that got missed in the harvest and we would collect them and make muffins, cranberry bread and mix them with apple pie - they add a little tartness to the pie that I really like.
In Italy desserts are often flavored with honey, chestnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Cantucci originated in the Tuscany and it is thought that they were flavored with almonds from Prato. They can be found in every pasticceria in the Tuscany. Cantucci are mostly eaten with a glass of “Vin Santo” a sweet wine. Many restaurants serve small almond biscotti with coffee and some will have a bowl of them on the table at all times. It is probably the most well-known and popular biscotti in Italy.
Following is our family recipe for cantucci. Make a full recipe and stored in a metal container, they will last a few weeks. They can be frozen up to two months – they defrost very quickly. You will always have biscotti to serve with coffee when friends drop by.