Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gnocchi di Magro- Wine and Olive Oil Cookies

We are lucky to be within walking distance to one of Rome's best enotecas (wine boutique). When I need wine for a recipe, Roman and I go in. Otherwise, I leave the wine purchases to P, who has spent much of the last 18 months learning about and enjoying Italy's finest wines. We're usually the first customers of the day, and they normally sell me something for under 5 euro, since it's for cooking. I neglected to buy wine for this recipe, so P had to open up a bottle of 2005 Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello tends to run a bit pricey, but it's worth it. We've seen it in the States for 70 dollars a bottle and up. We pay less than that here since we're not paying importation fees. At first, P cringed at using one of his good bottles to make cookies, but I explained that to get a good outcome, you have to use quality ingredients. When he tasted these, he agreed wholeheartedly that the brunello was a wise choice.

I discovered gnocchi di magro when I walked into the entoeca to buy red wine for my coda alla vaccinara and saw these bags of little, tiny nuggets of cookies sitting on the counter. Intrigued, never having tasted a dessert gnocco, I paid the whopping 8 euro for a bag, curious as ever to try them. I waited till we got home to pop one in my mouth. Made in Umbria, gnocchi di magro are about 30% olive oil, 30% red wine, flour, sugar and a bit of leavening agent. I visited the website of the producer, but did not find a recipe there. So, I googled and talked to some Italian food bloggers who directed me to a recipe that I think worked nicely. The original recipe from which I adapted this is for ciambelline, so I made a few in that dough-nutty shape. But what I really wanted was a tiny, bite size cookie to toss into my mouth (one after the other). What these cookies lack in looks, they make up for in decadent flavor and uniqueness. Diamonds in the rough.

Gnocchi di Magro
Yield will vary based on size of cookies you decide to make.

These are vegan by nature and they come together in a snap. You don't need to be at all fussy about the shape. Just form logs, slice into little bits, toss in sugar and bake. To me, part of their charm is that they are all shaped slightly differently, like things in the real world. They taste great along side a glass of wine, but would be equally good served with a strong hot chocolate, or better yet a rich chocolate mousse. Then again, their flavors would pair well with fruit or a plate of cheeses.

500 grams flour (17.5 ounces, or slightly over 2 cups)
scant cup of sugar (for the sugar, oil and wine, I used a dry cup measure and filled to about a centimeter below the rim)
scant cup of fruity olive oil
scant cup of high quality, dry red wine
leavening agent (I used a packet of cream of tartor, but you could substitute about 2 teaspoons of baking powder.)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, then transfer to the counter top and knead until nicely incorporated. Form small logs with your hands and slice off little bits. Toss these gently in more sugar and place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, then turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes or so. Baking times will vary depending on your oven, but you want them to be slightly golden brown.


  1. Ciao Nicole, come sono venuti gli gnocchi di magro? Sono simili a quelli che avevi comprato?

  2. I have never tasted or even heard of these gnocchi di magro. I am intrigued. Yours must have been especially good since you used an outstanding bottle of wine to make them, even at cheaper Italian prices.

  3. Cookies and wine, does it get much better? :)

    Fun recipe- I would love to try these sometime.

  4. Wow, what an amazing blog you have, here! Thanks for reading and commenting on mine :) It's great to know you.

  5. I've stopped by your blog without commenting a few times - but I have to tell you how much I adore your photography.

    Also, somehow I missed the fact that you're in Rome - I thought you were just a big fan of Italian food :) Rome is my dream city ... after the first steps I took into the city, I would have been happy to ask someone to send me my stuff and just stay there.

    Also, I will be trying out your gnocchi recipe soon. Someday I will perfect gnocchi, even if it kills me.

  6. Hi Margie,
    Glad you like the photos, they are all taken by my husband.
    Yup, we're in Rome since June 2009 although our time here is coming to an end in 3 months. That's ok though because it's not the easiest place to live - sometimes living in a place takes some of the romance out of it, you know? Sorry I didn't give a real recipe for the gnocchi, but if you find a good one, just be sure to use that tip of boiling some water so you can taste a few to make sure you like the consistency before you make them all.

  7. I had a lot of fun making these. We first had ciambelli on a stop in Frascati while on a trip to Rome. When I came across a recipe for ciambelline, of course I had to make them last Christmas.

    I love the idea of a handful of these crispy nuggets. Delicious. The only problem was that they didn't last long enough. Thanks for the great idea.


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