Siena is a beautiful small medieval city in the center of Tuscany surrounded by hills and fields of a gorgeous countryside where I lived for 25 years. It is a major turist attraction, especially in summer when the Palio is hosted, therefore is really common when people in the Netherlands ask me where I come from and I reply “Siena” their face turns into a huge smile and say “ohhhh! I’ve been there! It’s so beautiful, amazing, gorgeous! Do you miss it?”. My immediate response from my gut is “No.” All the locals entertaining spots are closing one by one during the years. Cinemas, pubs, almost all of them closed down. In the city center you can find mostly expensive restaurants and shops. Me and my friends used to walk back and forth in the main street and then end up sitting in Piazza del Campo eating ice cream or drinking something. This is what all teenagers do in Siena and it’s all the fun you can get.
Anyway there is something I like and I miss about Siena: the bakery goods, especially the Christmas bakery goods: Ricciarelli, Panforte, Panpepato and Cavallucci.
Sweet, spiced, nutty flavored and sugar powdered goodness that fills my belly with joy around Christmas. (Of course my mom ship me all of them every year in a Christmas package.)
For the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year I decided to replicate the Cavallucci, an ancient cookie coming from the peasants traditions. Their consistence is quite hard because they were made to last for a really long time. The original recipe has only walnuts and spices although now it’s more common the use of candied fruits (orange and cedar) which also soften a little bit the cookie. Since candied fruits are practically non-existent in the Netherlands (or at least in the city I live in) I had to opt for the first basic version.
Another peculiarity is that they look like they are coated in sugar powder but it’s actually flour, which makes them more rustic and less sweet (which is supposed to be a good thing).
- This recipe is for about 50 cookies.
- The proportion of spices for Cavallucci is:
-65% Coriander seeds
All the spices should be finely grounded in order to blend uniformly with the dough.
- 700g (6+1/3 cups) All Purpose Flour
- 1 tbsp Baking Ammonia
- 400g (2 cups) Sugar
- 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar
- 150g (about 2/3 cup) Water
- 150g (5.3 oz.) Walnuts
- 2 tbsp Spices (see post)
- (optional) 150g (5.3 oz.) Candied Fruits (Orange and Cedar)
- Roughly chop the walnuts and add them in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking soda, powdered sugar, spices and candied fruits in the same bowl with the walnuts and mix well with you hands or with a wooden spoon.
- Set aside and prepare the sugar syrup: In a medium pan pour the water and add the sugar; turn on the heat to low and stir frequently to melt the sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and turn off the heat (In total it will take about 10 minutes).
- Pour the sugar syrup over the other ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until you get a sticky ball of dough. At some point you may work it with your hands if you prefer, but be careful since the sugar syrup may be still hot.
- Pour some extra flour on a cutting board; make small balls of dough and roll them in the flour until completely coated. Press them gently with your palm to make thick disks and place them in a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Bake the Cavallucci in the pre-heated oven at 180°C for about 10-15 minutes (depending on the dimension) press gently on top with your finger, if it's firm then they're ready.
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From my lovely swappers I received incredible cookies:
Melissa from Sunshine in my Kitchen sent me awesome Peanut Butter Cookies -> See the recipe here: http://www.sunshineinmykitchen.nl/great-cookie-swap-2015/
My Linh from Writing Temptations sent me delicious Almond Pumpkin Spice Duo Cookies -> See the recipe here: http://www.writing-temptations.net/?p=5390&lang=en
Note: They both were so good that I forgot to take pictures before eating them all, but you can find incredible pictures in their posts!
This was the second year participating in the Cookie Swap from the Netherlands (1 year I participated from Italy). My Linh and I already swapped cookies last year and it was a pleasure to swap again this year, we also kept in touch via Instagram during the year.
With Melissa it was the first swap but I hope she enjoyed as much as I did.
I am really grateful for this cool initiative which every year brings a smile to food blogger’s days!