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.