I don't remember when I learned the family recipes. There wasn't anything written down, it was just done. Like all of the magic in my family, it was a matter of watching, assisting, then being supervised, then doing it on my own. Maybe once or twice my cookies were as good as Grampa's lol I still haven't gotten the anisette cookies quite right. Maybe that's because I was never an anisette fan and you really do have to nibble as you work to test for flavor and consistency. Let me know if I get em right this year.
I'm not sharing my recipes, since there aren't really any, but I will share some fun from an old cookbook written when Italian food was something "out of the ordinary." I just realized it was published only a few years after pizza started to become popular in the US. I wonder if the author would be pleased or horrified that there's an Olive Garden is almost every suburb. Probably both- pleased that Italian food is now mainstream, yet horrified that the stuff you get at these chain restaurants is pretty much schlock where taste and technique is sacrificed for the sake of consistency. I've veganized the recipe:
Baci di Dama (Lady's Kisses)
1.25 cups Earth Balance margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp water as necessary
1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
Powdered sugar in a brown paper bag
Ghiradelli semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350
Cream margarine and sugar together. Add salt, almond extract, flour and water. Mix until smooth. Add water as necessary to maintain consistency.
Grease your cookie sheet if necessary.
Form dough into 1-inch balls, and press slightly to flatten the bottom.
Bake for aprox 8 minutes, check to see if they are browning. You want to take them out when the bottom begins to brown but the rest stays mostly white.
Let cool for aprox 10 minutes then toss in bag of powdered sugar to coat and set aside to cool further
Melt chocolate and put it into a shallow dish
Tap the flat bottom of the balls into the chocolate and press pairs together. Let dry.
Here's a great website I'm excited about: http://www.veganitalia.com/ It's in Italian and about being Vegan in Italy! \o/ A recipe for Vegan Torrone can be found here: http://www.veganitalia.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1502
Torrone, a nougat candy, goes back to ancient Rome. The recipe above leaves out a favorite ingredient of mine: A shot of Strega Liquore! Some history on it, along with a mention of using Strega Liquore in the recipe:
Torrone is the Italian, and perhaps the original, version of nougat candy. In Italy, it can be traced back to the days of the Roman Empire, when it was a simple sweet concocted from egg whites, almonds and honey. The exact origin of the word torrone is unclear; the Latin torréo translates into “to toast,” perhaps referring to one of the principal ingredients, a toasted nut. To the Romans themselves, nougat candy was known as “cupedia,” meaning the desire for delicate food; it was reserved for special celebrations or used as an offering to the gods. The Roman soldiers carried the sweet treat to the far reaches of the vast Roman Empire, including their Arab conquests. The sugar-loving Arab Sarcens then introduced nougat to Greece, France and Spain.
I'll be giving away trays of sweets as gifts this year!