Ciambelline: Italian wine cookies

The first time I had these cookies I found myself sitting in a medieval tavern called Il Barone outside of the old castle of Fumone in the mountains of the ciociaria region of Italy. Now this memory is forever engrained in my mind because when we arrived at the castle it was a foggy winter night, bone chillingly cold and this place was only lit by candle light.  Before we even started drinking I was drunk with excitement.

So anyway… we sat down at an old wooden table across from a group a guys dressed in medieval costumes. One of them even had a very large broad sword. They were drinking and talking or rather shouting about American politics. The owner brings over a glass bottle of house wine and bowl full of ciambelline. One bite of those anise and red wine laced biscuit like cookies and i was hooked.  There is nothing like a few ciambelline to soak up wine while you try to keep up with your italian drinking buddies.  Ciambelline are also great as tea cookies. I had some this morning with my tea.
Now that I have gone on and on about these cookies here is the recipe. It’s super simple.

3 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon of anise
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of white wine
 a little extra wine and sugar for topping

In a large bowl or as Italian women do it in a mound on the table, mix together the dry ingredients.

Then pour in the wine and oil and mix with your hands until it becomes a dough. It should be stiffer then looser. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into strips about the thickness and length of your index finger, about 3 inches long and 1/2 wide. 

Wrap the strip of dough around your finger and crimp the ends shut.

Then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with a little wine and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 until golden and hardened. When cooled they will be some what hard on the outside but softer in the middle but crunchy. Enjoy with lots of wine at night with friends out in the cold or at tea time.

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13 Responses to Ciambelline: Italian wine cookies

  1. Wine Gift says:

    That’s fascinating. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  2. These look amazing!! I MUST try them!
    (Have you ever made them with red wine?!?!)
    Happy Holidays!!!!

  3. KC Pagano says:

    Heather- I have made these with red wine. They are just as good! Just switch out the white wine for red and you’re good to go. Happy Holidays to you too!

  4. Lisa says:

    Was remembering my first experience with these wonderful little cookies; they were made with red wine and were delicious! Thanks for posting the recipe.

    • KC says:

      You are very welcome! Please tell you if you make them and post a picture to the blog’s flickr group or facebook page!

  5. Pat Querio says:

    I made your recipe for ciambelline without the yeast, they are great. Now I have the recipe for ciambelline with yeast that I would like to try. At what point do you let the dough rise, after you kneed the dough or after you roll and shape the cookies.
    Thanks, and have a Merry Christmas!

    • KC says:

      Hi Patti thanks for trying my recipe. I’ve never heard of ciambelline being made with yeast. The recipe that I use comes from the south of Italy It’s one my mother in law and sister in law make. I’ve looked at a dozen or so recipes and none of them call for it. There is a version of ciambelle that are bread in the circle shape with anise. Maybe that is what your recipe is for. I would would say rise after kneading.

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  7. I am a little confused on the picture of the dry ingredients. It looks like brown sugar or yeast. Do you use brown sugar instead of white refined?

  8. lkristel says:

    Do you have to knead this dough a lot?

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