Tag: Christmas

6 (Pretty) Easy Desserts to Make for the Holidays

(Above: Watch the video and see how super easy it is to make Italian Christmas Pudding.) 

Three of these holiday treats are quick and super easy to make and the other three are just easy. All make good after-dinner treats or sweet gifts.

Quick & Super Easy

1.) Italian Christmas Pudding (aka: Pudding with the Red Stuff):
This couldn’t be any easier to make. It’s my grandmother’s recipe and she served it at family dinners, including on Christmas Eve. It’s a quick and easy version of an Italian dessert called, “Zuppa Inglese.”

 

2.) Chocolate Kahlua Rum Balls:
 If you’re short on time but still want to make some homemade Christmas treats, try this one (but this is for adults-only). They require no baking and so the alcohol doesn’t burn off. They make a great gift too. Avoid heavy machinery and sleighs.

 

3.) Chocolate Bark with Walnuts and Orange AND White Chocolate Bark with Pistachios and Cranberries:
The only thing easier than making this sweet treat would be going out and buying it. Takes only about 30 minutes to make too.

 

Just Easy

 4.) Christmas Befana Cookies:
This recipe from Northern Italy makes 100 cookies. They’ll keep for weeks and even months in an air-tight container.

 

5.) Amaretti Cookies:
Three main ingredients — almonds, confectioners sugar, egg whites — keeps this recipe simple. However, you have to pay attention to shaping and forming the cookies before baking.

 

6.) Chocolate Bread:
Treat yourself to Pane alla Cioccolata, an Italian bread that despite its name is not too sweet. This goes great with a morning cup of coffee or an after-dinner glass of red wine.

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Christmas Befana Cookies

Christmas Befana Cookies

(Above: My grandmother’s recipe makes about 200 cookies. Here, I cut the recipe in half.)

 

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La Befana is an old woman who visits children in Italy on Jan. 6 in celebration of the Epiphany. Similar to Santa Claus, she enters their homes through the chimney in order to deliver gifts.

A bowl filled with wet and dry cookie ingredients
This recipe is pretty easy as you just dump all of the cookie dough ingredients in a bowl and stir.

 

Small towns throughout Italy celebrate her arrival each year, including Barga, in northern Italy, near where my family is from. Many people from Scotland have settled in this area and this year the local school put on an outdoor show, featuring Father Christmas and La Befana.

 

Cookies on a sheet before they're baked
The egg white in the red mixture makes the filling expand in the oven.

 

My grandmother used cookie cutters shaped like the four suits on playing cards. When I made these all I had was the spade cutter, which I used along with a star-shaped cookie cutter. Since then, I was able to purchase on the secondary market the other suit-shaped cookie cutters.)

 

Cookies on a sheet right out of the oven
Fresh out of the oven. You have to watch these so they don’t burn.

 

My grandmother, Bruna, made these Befana cookies every Christmas. Requiring 8 cups of flour, her recipe made enough of these biscuit-like treats to last well past Valentine’s Day. Here, I’ve cut her recipe in half, which still makes about 100 cookies.

 

Santa Claus with Befana cookies and milk
Ha! Even Santa celebrates La Befana.

 

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Christmas Befana Cookies

December 16, 2009
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • For the cookie:
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • Skin of 1/2 orange, grated
  • Skin of 1/2 lemon, grated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Milk, just enough to work with (about 1/4 – 1/2 cup)
  • Crisco shortening (enough to grease a few cookie sheets)
  • For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup of almonds
  • Sugar (1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup)
  • Skin of 1/2 orange, grated
  • Skin of 1/2 lemon, grated
  • Vanilla (1/2 tsp.)
  • 1/2 ounce of Anisette or Whiskey
  • 1 drop of red food coloring
  • 1/16 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 1 egg white (beaten until foamy)
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the cookie dough: Put all cookie ingredients in a bowl and stir well to blend ingredients.
  • Step 2 Put flour over your hands and over a flat surface. Take dough from bowl and knead a few times until all ingredients are blended well.
  • Step 3 Take large chunks of the dough and roll it out on a floured surface with a rolling pin covered with flour. Roll it out to about 1/4-inch thickness.
  • Step 4 Grease a couple of cookie sheets by spreading Crisco shortening over them and then flouring them.
  • Step 5 Take your cookie cutters and cut out cookies. Put on a greased baking sheet and with your index finger, make a small indentation in each one (This is where the filling will go.)
  • Step 6 To make the filling: Put almonds and sugar in a food processor and mix until very fine. Empty into a small bowl.
  • Step 7 Add the rest of the filling ingredients, except for the egg white, and mix well. Then fold in the egg white.
  • Step 8 Put a small drop of the filling on each cookie and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until the cookies turn a dark golden brown on the bottom. (Note: You only need about a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of filling for each cookie as the egg white makes the mixture expand during cooking.) (Warning: If the cookies are too thin, they will cook quickly and could burn if you don’t watch them.)
  • Step 9 Let them cool on a rack and bake the rest in batches.