27 Oct 2012, Posted by admin in EAT + DRINK, 0 Comments
I’ve always been a bit wary of a cookie that looks too perfect. You know, the ones with the razor-sharp edges, or crafted in circles so symmetrical they induce geometry class yawns. The worst offender this time of year: Those holiday cookies all dressed up for magazine covers with the ornamental icing piped so meticulously, it surely took all the fun out of making them. The flavor of that sticky-sweet icing laced with Red Dye #5? No comment.
Of all cookie cultures, Italians seem to appreciate those hard-earned almond imperfections most with their traditional biscotti of every shape and size. Cookies like lingue de gatto (cat’s tongue), a simple egg white and butter lightened cookie with an ingenious name, as it makes piping them onto parchment-lined baking sheets suddenly a carefree endeavor (those piping imperfections become part of the cat’s tongue story).
In books like the aptly named Biscotti, an excellent cookie manual for your back pocket, incidentally, there are biscotti al datteri e noci (date and walnut cookies) that benefit from that dusting of powdered sugar for more than flavor reasons — the snowy powder covers up the craggy walnuts that form a (delicious) nutmeat-blemished mound. And then there’s the namesake classic, brutti ma buoni (ugly but good) cookies, those little nubs of meringue speckled with hazlenuts that dissolve on your tongue before you even noticed there wasn’t a straight edge to be found.
Or the biscotti al maise (cornmeal cookies) that Biscotti authors Mona Talbott and Mirella Misenti (Alice Waters was also involved in these freshly baked pages) advise you roll out and cut with cookie cutters. But hopefully, if you have the book (or a similar cornmeal cookie recipe), you didn’t. Instead, chill the lightly sweetened dough, shape it into rough rounds, give it a generous indentation with your thumb, and you’ve got some very ugly — and very good — jam thumbprint cookies.