Several years ago, I made these cookies during a Christmas visit to Italy. My mother had never made the Americanized version. She had never used corn syrup or molasses, clearly not Italian ingredients. Well, she liked them and eventually began making them every holiday. She called them “Biscotti Merican,” referring to American biscuits, removing the letter “A” as part of the dialect pronunciation.
Italian prune cookies (Makes 2 loaves)
Filling: 4 cups pitted prunes
3/4 cup water
One tablespoon molasses
One tablespoon corn syrup
1/3 cup sugar
Two teaspoons orange rind
One teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dough: 4 1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting board
1/2 cup of sugar
Three whole eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk (regular or soy)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
One teaspoon baking soda
Two teaspoons baking powder
1- 1/2 tablespoons orange rind (about 1/2 large orange)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
One teaspoon vanilla
To Make Filling: Add prunes and water to a medium saucepan and boil prunes until plump. Remove from heat and add sugar, molasses, corn syrup, salt, orange rind, vanilla, and cinnamon. Puree mixture with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Set fruit mix aside overnight.
To Make the dough: In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Make a well in the center. Add the eggs, milk, grated orange rind, vanilla, oil, and mix to form a dough. Knead the dough for a minute or two until it gets to the consistency for rolling.
Divide the dough into three parts. Dust a rolling pin and a piece of waxed paper (measured the length of your cookie sheet) with a bit of flour. Roll each part of the dough into a rectangle of 1/8 inch thickness. Put 1/3 of the fruit mix onto the dough rectangle and spread evenly. Lift one side of the waxed paper with the dough lengthwise into the center. Peel away from the waxed paper.
Fold the other side in the slightly past center, and press the seam lightly. Pinch ends to close. Lift the loaf on the waxed paper and flip onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet with the seam under it.
Bake in 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) oven for 15-16 minutes (top should be lightly brown). Allow cooling, then cut crosswise slices about 1 inch thick.
To Make Glaze: Use the juice of 1 lemon and enough confectioners’ sugar to obtain a smooth cookie’s glazing top. Drop sprinkles onto the glaze and allow the glaze to set.
Leave the cookies at room temperature, covered with a cloth napkin.
Thanks for reading. Eat safe and wear a mask! Ciao Chef W
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