Twisted Bureaucracy (and Cookies)

We’ve been tying up all the loose ends in preparation of our (much needed) vacation which starts in a little over a week. One of the things I did this week was get the dogs’ international health certificates in order. As I sat in the waiting room of the USDA, waiting for my vet to fax over the completed paperwork, a woman came in. She did not have an appointment, but did have all of her paperwork in order. It took 2 supervisors and the receptionist ( who was probably playing solitary) to explain that they could not help her since she did not have an appointment and they didn’t take walk-ins after 8am. It was 8:20am. In the time they discussed their rules on appointment making, they could have easily stamped her documents. I understand that the woman should have made an appointment… but the waiting room was completely EMPTY. If the room as packed, as it was when we traveled at Christmas last year, I’d understand. But this was ridiculous… I don’t know if that was pure laziness or a rule that just couldn’t be broken. Either way, it was stupid and a perfect example of a government office (not so) hard at work.

So on to my twisted cookies… (nice segue, eh?) Two of my favorite ingredients when it comes to sweets are almonds and honey. When I came across this cookie that has a large amount of both… I just had to try it. This Sicilian twisted cookie, Infasciadedde, comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri. Mine looked nothing like the photo in the book, but they were still very tasty. We’ll call mine rustic… this is the word I use whenever something I make looks like poo, but tastes fantastic. Repeat after me… Rustic.

Infasciadedde (Sicilian Twisted Cookie) Recipe

Dough (Pasta Frolla)
4 c all purpose flour
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
16 tbsp (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs

12 oz (about 3 c) whole, unblanched almonds
1 c honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon

For finishing:
2 oz sliced toasted almonds

1. To make dough, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse repeatedly until it is finely incorporated and the mixture is cool and powdery. Add the eggs, all at once and continue to pulse until the dough forms a ball. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and then place it on a piece of plastic wrap. Press the dough into a square, about an inch thick and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2. For the filling, place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the honey and cinnamon and pulse to make a smooth paste. Scrape the filling into a shallow bowl.

3. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

4. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and place on a floured surface. Knead the dough lightly to make it malleable again and roll it up into a cylinder. Cut the cylinder into four equal pieces. Place one piece of dough on a floured surface and roll it to a 12 inch square. Cut the dough unto eight strips, each 1 1/2 inch x 12 inches. Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling in a narrow line down the middle of each strip of dough, then fold the strip of dough so the long ends meet, but do not press them together.

5. Cut the folded strip into 4-inch length and twist each once or twice. Arrange the cookies on a parchment lined sheetpan, about an inch apart in all directions. Repeat with the other pieces of dough and the remaining filling.

6. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until they are golden. Slide the papers onto racks to cool the cookies. Right before serving, drizzle the cookies with the honey and sprinkle with the toasted sliced almonds. Store cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight fitting cover.

Makes about 96 cookies

Note: Only finish off the cookies you are about to serve, as they are difficult to store once the honey is drizzled on top.