Intrecci Vaniglia e Cacao: classic Italian cookies, replica of a popular famous brand. Light and crumbly "braids", with a delightful flavor of vanilla and cocoa melting and blending in your mouth at every bite!
Intrecci Vaniglia e Cacao are among the most popular and loved Italian cookies. Actualy, we call them biscotti, because in Italian this term means every generic cookie. They are the homemade version of a store bought famous brand cookie, mostly enjoyed at breakfast. In almost all Italian families, and in my Italian family in particular, biscotti da colazione (breakfast cookies) are very much a part of a regular routine. We dip them in cappuccino, tea, or milk, one after the other, with a delight that we try to savour even in the morning rush.
If you go to my parents' house, in the lower shelves of their large antique cabinet, you'll find a stock pile of their favorite pantry items: pasta, coffee, dark chocolate, fette biscottate (similar to a melba toast but not exactly the same), and biscotti, almost like shelves you would see on a grocery isle. Different varieties, shapes and flavors of biscotti, and among them, very often, this Intrecci Vaniglia e Cacao. Intrecci meaning braids, or twists, where half of the dough is scented with vanilla bean, the other half with cocoa.
Let's make the Intrecci!
They don't require a lot of work as it may seem. The buttery, light and crumbly dough (similar to a shortbread) comes together in less than no time. Then you just have to divide the dough and in one add the scraped vanilla bean, while in the other the cocoa. The two dough balls, wrapped in plastic, need to rest in the fridge for 45 minutes, and that to me seemed like the longest time, as I wanted to get them done and in the oven. But after that time the fun part begins because you get to play with the dough, letting the kid in you, enjoy making first little balls of dough, then rolling them, and twisting them into cute braids. The two colors intertwine in a lovely embrace.
It would be a nice family activity to do with kids, sharing in the process of making these Intrecci with vanilla bean and cocoa. When I was child I enjoyed baking with my mom, or making pasta dough with my nonna, sharing the space on the board or table, listening to their banter on several subjects.
The smell coming out of the oven is sweet and fragrant, the vanilla bean being more aromatic than the regular vanilla extract; and the cocoa releasing the so familiar cocoa bean scent. Together they are the perfect pair, so diverse in color and flavor, yet each one complimenting and enhancing the other. Whether with a coffee, cappuccino, or a glass of milk, at breakfast like we Italians would mostly eat them, as a snack, or after supper treat, they're always well received.
Everyone has their own technique on how they eat their favorite cookie: Loreto likes to bite into the cookie enjoying the flavor of each bite, then washing it down with some cold milk. I, on the other hand, like dipping mine in a warm cappuccino or coffee, spoon ready to save any morsels that might fall in, letting the coffee soak the cookie a bit adding yet another level of flavor to the overall experience. I also think there might be someone who would like to unravel the cookie and enjoy each flavor separately, kind of like an Oreo experience.
Anyway you decide to do it, I am sure these Intrecci with Vanilla bean and Cocoa will bring back some childhood memories and also be savored. To me, when I am in Canada and cannot find the store bought version, they are a way that I can stay connected to my roots.
Song of the day: Good Grief, by Bastille.Print
Recipe adapted from: Biscotti intrecciati alla vaniglia e cacao
- 120 gr butter at room temperature
- 100 gr granulated or light brown sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 40 gr milk
- 280 gr flour type 00 (cake flour)
- 15 gr unprocessed dutch cocoa
- 1 vanilla bean
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add, stirring the yolks and milk.
- Finally incorporate the flour and mix quickly.
- Divide dough in half: in one add the scraped vanilla bean, in the other the cocoa.
- Form two dough balls, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180 ° C), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator.
- Get balls the size of a walnut and roll with your hand until you get the cylinders about 15 cm long and 1 cm thick.
- Roll two opposite color cylinders with one another and form a spiral.
- Arrange the braided cookies on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
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