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23 December 2013

Biscotti Ferri di Cavallo (Horseshoe Biscuits)

When Christmas comes, the baking comes too. Biscuit-making becomes a main activity in the kitchen and big boxes are prepared to be filled up once again with these goodies that are to be given to close friends and family. I had my share last week from my mother-in-law and her sister, who packed a small box for me and my family to take home. They are those Sicilian Christmas biscuits that they have been making generation after generation. 

Last year, I shared with you one of their 3 delicious Sicilian biscuit recipes, the Buccellati.  This year, I am sharing with you these Ferri di Cavallo (Horseshoe Biscuits). These are much simpler to make than the first one and they are great as well. I hope you enjoy them just like we all do every year.

And well, just one more sleep and it's Christmas Eve! And just like in any Italian house, the full-course dinner that had been planned a long time ago are already prepped and systemized to go out on the dinner table course after course. It's going to be one of those very long dinners with good company, excellent wine, food and spumante. And of course, the icon of Christmas, the panettone and the pandoro!

The linen, silver and crystals are being polished, the tree is upright and exploding with bright packages underneath, the Christmas cheer is permeating the air and the family's around to be a part of everything.  It's Christmas once again and all the special things, big and small, take part in our celebrations.  

Merry Christmas to all! 


Biscotti Ferri di Cavallo (Horseshoe Biscuits)

Makes about 60 biscuits
  •  2 untreated oranges, zest only
  • 500 g. almonds, shelled (or you can buy almonds that have already been toasted)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 10 cm. long)
  • 500 g. flour (Double Zero if possible)
  • 500 g. sugar
  • 3/4 to 1 cup red wine
  1. On a microwaveable plate, scatter the zest of the 2 oranges and put them in the microwave until they dry up. Set aside.
  2. If you are still toasting the shelled almonds, scatter them in a baking pan and bake them in a pre-heated oven of 160°C for 15 minutes. To check if they are toasted, the inside part of the almonds should turn brownish. 
  3. Let them cool down. Rub them in between your palms to remove the brown skin.
  4. In a blender, ground the cinnamon stick, almonds and the orange zest to a coarse consistency.
  5. On a wooden working table or a big bowl, mix the almond mixture, flour and sugar.
  6. Add the wine little by little until the dough becomes compact. The amount of the wine depends on the consistency of the dough. Shape it into a ball.
  7. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour. 
  8. On the wooden board covered with flour, divide the dough to smaller pieces and shape them to long cylinders. It is easier to do this with slightly wet fingers.
  9. Cut the cylinders to smaller pieces (about 8 cm.) and shape them like horseshoe.
  10. Distribute them on the baking pans. Brush the top part of the biscuits with a little bit of water. 
  11. In a pre-heated oven of 180°C, place the baking dishes on the middle rack and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer the baking dishes on the top rack and bake for another 5 minutes or until they turn a brownish.
  12. When they are cooked, they are still slightly soft. They will harden as they become cold. 
  13. Keep them in tightly sealed cookie jars.