April 7, 2010

The First of Many

I suppose it was inevitable that as we journeyed through my family’s culinary repertoire, we would eventually arrive at the Cookie Collection. And I have to tell you, I find the prospect of tackling this collection daunting. I knew it was coming, and I knew there would be no way to avoid it, because Nonna is nothing, if not a master cookie maker. A full inventory of the cookie recipes is forthcoming, but to name the highlights we have, cuccidata, pine nut, almond paste, pizzelle, honey, sesame, chocolate chip, and of course the infamous “S Cookie”.

It probably has something to do with lack of patience, but I’m not a baker. Apart from the fact that I get to use my KitchenAid to make the dough, I find it hard to motivate myself to get into cookie-making mode.

Yet, this past week I decided that it was time to begin chipping away at the cookie archive and, in celebration of springtime and flowers, I chose to start with “S” cookies because you get to use sprinkles.

The “S” cookie really is a fun cookie (once you get past all of the rolling it entails) and a definite crowd pleaser. I think it is because the cookie itself is not sweet. The sweetness is in the frosting, but it doesn’t overwhelm the palette with a sugary stickiness.

When I called for the recipe, I asked Nonna to explain to me why these cookies are shaped like an S and had she ever tried a using a different shape. I expected her to have some fascinating explanation about the significance and religious meaning of the serpentine shape. Instead, she told me point blank that she had absolutely no idea, that Grandma Tocco never told her, and you don’t go changing the shape of a cookie just because you feel like it… at least not if you expect people to eat them. Right. Got it.

I adhered to the “S” shape ruled, and brought a batch to my parents for Easter, and people did in fact eat them. Who am I to question success? An “S” shape it is.

“S” Cookies

So I think we need to take a minute and discuss lard. Try not to overreact and substitute butter or even shortening for this ingredient. IT WILL NOT TASTE RIGHT. I’m sorry, there’s really no getting around it. Trust me, we’ve tried. For the right consistency and taste it has to be lard. It just does.

5 cups of flour
1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
1 cup lard
2 TBLS baking powder
3 eggs
1 TBLS vanilla (the real stuff)
Preheat oven to 375*

Mix your dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.

With an electronic mixer, beat the lard and add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.

Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough comes together.

Grease your cookie sheets.

To form the “S” shape, take about a tablespoon of dough and form a ball, roll out to form an “S”.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until the bottoms of the cookies have just turned golden.

3 cups confectioners sugar
3 TBLS butter (room temperature)
1 TBLS vanilla
¼ cup warm milk
Sprinkles (colorful ones)

Beat the butter with an electronic mixer, add sugar, milk and vanilla.

When cookies cool, frost the tops and using a spoon, sprinkle on the sprinkles!

1 comment:

  1. Why don't I see 'S' cookies at Mike's in the North End? Or other Italian Pastry Shops? Are they regional ... midwestern?

    The 'lard' thing is exactly like trying to substitute butter for shortening in tollhouse cookies ... it just doesn't work! (Pssst, tell your nonna that)