SMiLes by Meg

Viscotti

I have a new theory in the kitchen: cinnamon belongs in everything. Perhaps controversial, but I’m pretty sold on the stuff. It’s amazing what the addition of some cinnamon does to what would otherwise just be a cakey sugar cookie in this recipe. Literally game changing.

And that’s not all – while I’m typing this, I’ve got a batch of sweet potatoes in the oven, also with cinnamon. It truly is an all purpose spice. We should all show cinnamon a little more appreciation.

If my newfound devotion to the most common kitchen spice wasn’t an indication, I really haven’t had anything major to stress about in awhile. And it’s been AWESOME. The most traumatic moment of my week was finding out I had been knitting a sock incorrectly and having to start over. When that’s as bad as it gets, life is pretty good.

And it’s my birthday week! So of course I’ll be celebrating right up until next Sunday, my actual birthday. Wondering what to get a baker for their birthday? Silicon baking mats. (How carefully do you read this, Mom?)

Anyways, the cookies. This week, I’m finally bringing treats into work (it’s week 3), so I wanted to make something that wasn’t super offensive flavor-wise and looked at least a little pretty. So I turned to my Milk and Cookies Cookbook, which has a whole section on classic Italian recipes, and landed on Viscotti, aka S Cookies.

Best part? They’re quick! Quick and impressive-looking is a winning combination.

First, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. If you aren’t baking by weight yet, do yourself a huge favor and go get a kitchen scale immediately. So much more accurate. So much less measuring.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat shortening and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Beat in the milk until incorporated. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients, in 4 to 5 additions, until just combined. Here’s the only hard part. If you aren’t pressed on time, I’d through the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to make it easier to handle. I just didn’t want to deal with that, so I pressed on with liberal extra flour so the dough didn’t just coat my hands. If you can avoid doing that, I’d suggest it.

When you are ready to shape the cookies, divide the dough into 24 equal pieces, roll each into a 3 inch log, and form an S with the cookie, setting them about two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. They WILL spread. I promise. The two inches are necessary. Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes. Look at that spread! They are like little cakes, and really puff up! Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly. Other good gifts for bakers? Extra cooling racks. We always need them. I was playing the how-far-can-I-hang-a-cookie-over-the-edge-without-it-breaking game. While cookies are warm, dust with confectioners sugar by putting the sugar in a mesh sieve and bumping side over the cookies. I enjoyed making it snow in my kitchen probably a little too much, and will have a bit of clean up to do.  And that’s it! Serve warm, if people are hovering over you and trying to get one, or wait until they cool and store in an airtight container between layers of wax paper. I’m planning on offering these as breakfast cookies tomorrow, but I think they’d be particularly good with tea. It’s that cinnamon, I’m telling you.

Enjoy!

Viscotti

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups (13 ounces) flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • About 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and shortening on medium speed for three minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, to combine.
  4. Beat in milk to incorporate.
  5. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients, except confectioners sugar, in four to five additions, until just combined.
  6. Cover and chill dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  7. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll each into a 3 inch log and shape into “S”. Place about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and remove to wire rack immediately.
  9. Allow to cool slightly. While still warm, dust with confectioners sugar by putting sugar in mesh sieve and tapping over cookies.

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