Monday, March 30, 2009

Pregnancy Cravings, Back with a Vengeance

My friend Erika is a great cook. She is the one who gave me the fabulous Grand Marnier Roasted Chicken recipe as well as countless recipes for cookies that are heaven on earth. She made these Sicilian White Cookies two years ago and I have been dreaming about them ever since. Funny enough, I was pregnant last time I was scarfing these down so no surprise that I had to have them the minute I came across the recipe in my binder.

They have only been in existence in my kitchen for a matter of hours and already my husband, daughter and I polished off a dozen of these bad boys. They are so light and fluffy that you justify cookie after cookie... "Well it tastes so light, it can't be that bad for you." (I'm always lying to myself.)

I'm generally scared to bake because you have to be much more precise than cooking and I always worry about things like using an extra large egg when it calls for a large egg or over-mixing the batter. Fortunately, these cookies were super easy, although it is true that you have to work fast when glazing and sprinkling. I had the most luck dipping cookies with the right hand then immediately sprinkling them with the left hand. That way the glaze didn't dry before I sprinkled the nonpareils.

Sicilian White Cookies (Pastine Bianche)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 T. plus 1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 t. anise extract
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 c. milk

2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 t. cream of tartar
1/4 c. milk

White nonpareils

Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on med-high speed, beat butter until creamy...about 2 min. Add granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in lemon zest and extracts. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add about 1/3 of flour and mix on low speed. Gradually add milk and remaining flour, mixing just until blended. Mixture should stiffen but still be a bit sticky. Roll dough into 1 inch balls between your floured palms and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

To make glaze, whisk all ingredients together until thick yet fluid. You may need a little more or less milk.

Bake cookies until light golden brown on bottom, about 10 min; tops will be white, dry, soft and springy. Slide parchment onto racks. Immediately pick up each cookie and dip top half into glaze. Allow excess to drip back into bowl. Set cookie, icing side up, back on parchment on racks and immediately sprinkle with nonpareils while icing is wet. YOU MUST WORK QUICKLY!

Allow to cool and dry completely.

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