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Buon Natale! Two Traditional Holiday Treats

Not sure if the world is quite back to normal after COVID-19, but it does feel more so than it has for the last 2 years.  This year, I plan to have my annual Christmas Eve dinner after a two year hiatus, with all of the Italian specialties.  Ravioli, Italian Style Chicken, and of course the sweet treats.  Recall my blog post from way back in 2011 about our Christmas Eve traditions Christmas Eve 2010.

Torcetti are a traditional Italian sugar cookie, but actually not made with any sugar in the batter, the yeast dough is rolled into sugar prior o baking to give it sweetness.  These cookies are simple, rustic, flaky and delicious.  Torcetti are made every year at Christmas around our house, often times made by my sister, Cathy.

 Biscotti is something I have only started making recently (meaning my Grandma didn't make it as I was growing up).  I have tried several recipes for this simple Italian, double baked biscuit, and I like the ease and outcome of this one the best. There are a multitude of add ins for biscotti (almond, vanilla, pistachio, cranberry, chocolate, etc) but this is the traditional anise version.

These two treats along with some pizelle will please all of your holiday guests!  

Buon Natale from Foodie Mama xxoo...


Torcetti (5 dozen)



  • 1 package active dry yeast 
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 5 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 sticks margarine
  • 2 slightly beaten eggs
  • 1 1/2  t pure vanilla extract
  • Approximately 2 C granulated sugar (for rolling)


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
  2. Place flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Cut the butter and margarine into the flour until mixture has the consistency of course crumbs.
  3. Add the eggs, vanilla, and yeast mixture to the flour mixture.  Mix well.
  4. On a floured board, knead the dough with hands for approximately 2-3 minutes, until soft.
  5. Wipe out the mixing bowl and lightly spray with cooking spray and place dough back inside.  Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. Cover a clean board with sugar.  Break off 1 T size portions of dough and roll out to uniform 1/2 inch thick ropes.  Roll ropes on the sugared board to coat.  Form ropes into a horseshoe shape and place onto an un-greased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. 
  8. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until lightly golden brown.  Sprinkle additional sugar on warm cookies as desired.  Cool on wire racks.  Repeat in batches.





Biscotti (3 dozen)



  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 3 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 T anise extract, or 3 drops anise oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease two cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. 
  2. Beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and anise extract in a medium bowl until well-blended. Combine flour and baking powder in a separate bowl; stir into egg mixture to form a heavy dough.  
  3. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece into a log the length of a cookie sheet. Place one log on each of the prepared sheets; and press dough down to 1/2-inch thickness. 
  4.  Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer logs to wire racks; let sit until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. 
  5. Slice each log crosswise into about eighteen 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices cut-sides up back on the cookie sheets.  
  6. Bake until lightly toasted and golden brown, 6 to 10 minutes per side.