Torcettini / Torcetti are sugar coated, twisted cookies made from yeasted dough and have a bread-like soft texture on the inside while being crunchy on the outer. The caramelized bottom is the highlight of this cookie. Torcettini are smaller versions of Torcetti (meaning small twists), and these pear/ teardrop shaped twisted cookies are synonymous with the town of Saint Vincent in Valle d'Aosta, a small mountainous region in North-Western Italy. I first made a chocolate version of these cookies following the ingredients and the steps to the T but as I was unable to take a snap of them at that time, I made it again by replacing the butter and baking it as vegan cookies.
Torcetti/ Torcettini are believed to have descended from Grissini (breadsticks) which were made from the leftover scraps of bread dough. According to one story, a Grissini baker had some leftover butter which he needed to use up. Inspiration struck and he decided to add the butter to the last batch of his Grissini dough for the day. To be able to differentiate this lot of “breadsticks” from his Grissini, he rolled them in sugar and shaped them into loops, and the Torcetti was born. Torcetti/ Torcettini are usually flavoured with either lime/ lemon zest or anise.
|Torcetti / Torcettini Cookies||
Adapted from Nick Malgieri’s “A Baker’s Tour”.
Prep time: 10 mins | Bake time: 30 mins | Makes: 24
- All purpose flour – 1-1/2 cups
- Active Dry Yeast – 1-1/4 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Water, lukewarm – 1/2 cup
- Vegetable Shortening / butter, cold – 40 gms
- Lemon zest – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1/3 cup
- Cinnamon powder – 1/4 tsp (optional)
1. In lukewarm water (110 F / 45 C) sprinkle yeast and keep aside.
2. In a bowl place, flour, salt, lemon zest and whisk to mix everything together.
3. Cube the cold vegetable shortening and add it to the dry ingredients and run the hand mixer till they resemble bread crumbs.
4. Now add the yeast mixture and run the mixer till they all come together and form a soft yet firm ball. Do not overdo the mixing.
5. Wrap the dough in a cling wrap and refrigerate from 1 hour to 24 hours in the fridge. I left it for one full day.
6. The next day divide the dough into 3 parts. Roll one part of the dough into a round shape and roll it like a mat.
7. Divide into 3 equal parts once again with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.
8. Once more roll one part into a thin shaped rope or into a bread stick with your palm to and fro.
9. In a plate mix together sugar and cinnamon powder (if using) and place the rolled dough on to the sugar and roll it once more so that the it gets well coated with sugar.
10. Bring one end over the other overlapping (tear shaped) as shown in the picture above.
11. Arrange the shaped cookies on to baking tray leaving enough space between them. Rest them for about 20 minutes or so till they rise/ puff up slightly. They do not raise that much despite using yeast.
12. Pre heat the oven at 160 C (325F) and bake for about 30 minutes or till they become golden brown. Cool the cookies on a rack. Store them in an air-tight container at room temperature.
For a Chocolate Version of Torcettini:
Just remove 2 tbsp all-purpose flour and replace it with 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder. Also add 2 tbsp powdered sugar and replace the lemon zest with orange zest while making the dough.
1. If using butter, make sure it is unsalted.
2. I kept the vegetable shortening in the freezer for 10 minutes to make it hard and cold prior to mixing the dough.
3. Once your Torcetti's have been shaped, don’t let them rise for longer than 20 minutes. If you do, your Torcetti will be more bread-like on the inside due to the extra “rise”.