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.