Friday, February 12, 2010

"Sweet Maria's Italian Cookie Tray: A Cookbook"

If you want to have cookies as favors or just as part of a sweet table and want to make them yourself, the cookbook "Sweet Maria's Italian Cookie Tray: A Cookbook" by Maria Bruscino Sanchez is a great reference book for you. Available from and other major booksellers, Maria's cookbook is a fantastic resource for recipes that range from drop and molded cookies to filled ones, biscotti, biscuits, taralle and pizelles, and many more. Cookie lovers will find plenty to devour in this compilation of Italian American favorites. Maria grew up in a closely knit Italian family, surrounded by Italian traditions and celebrations that her family brought with them from the 'old country.' As an adult she opened up her own bakery called "Sweet Maria's." It was at "Sweet Maria's" that she developed her recipes into Italian cookies with an American twist. Sanchez's precise directions ensure consistent results in the home kitchen, although you may need to go to the Italian Market to get all the ingredients needed. If you try it, please leave feedback on which cookies were a hit!

Under the Tuscan Sun -- Warm Going Down

There's a herbal liquer called Galliano that comes from the seaside of Tuscany. It's smooth and one of the ingredients of a lethal cocktail famous in the 70's called a Harvey Wallbanger. Now we have a new Tuscan cocktail called The Livorno Cocktail. It's light, fruity and a perfect sparkling drink for your wedding.

The Livorno Cocktail:


Total Time: Under 5 mins

Makes: 2 drinks


1 1/4 ounces Galliano
2 1/2 ounces sparkling apple juice
8 ounces chilled Prosecco

Combine Galliano and apple juice in a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice. Stir until chilled and frost is forming on the shaker, about 10 stirs. Strain between two champagne flutes and divide Prosecco evenly.

(Recipe courtesy of :

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Italian Wedding Cookies

Italian wedding cookies come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors.  Some are fig stuffed, some anise flavored, some covered with white confectioner's sugar, but the one thing they have in common is you can't eat just one!  I saw these beauties and fell in love!  Then I tasted them, and I was hooked!  Try them out, even if you don't make them for your wedding they'll soon become a family favorite for special occasions and holidays. 

The recipe for these beauties is as follows.  (Thanks to my husband's family)
These Italian anise cookies have a light frosting and and you can dust them with sprinkles.  I prefer them with icing colored with food coloring just to pastel prettiness.

Original Recipe Yield 5 dozen (depending on if you are snitching dough before you bake)


5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tsp. anise


3 Tblsp. melted butter
3 Cups powdered sugar
3 Tblsp. lite whipping cream or 1/2 and 1/2.
2 tsp. anise
(food coloring as desired) (I like pink, pale green, yellows)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
Grease cookie sheets.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar . Cut in butter using a pastry blender or rub between fingers until well blended.

Stir in the eggs, vanilla and anise extracts and mix into a firm dough.

Then turn dough out onto a floured surface, knead for about 5 minutes. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place them about an inch apart onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup confectioners' sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons water. Drizzle over cooled cookies and decorate with sprinkles if you like them.  They're just fine without them.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bomboniere and Italian Confetti Favors - Direct from Italy

Pelino's world-famous, prize-winning, sugar-coated candies known as "confetti" are now available from the House of Pelino in the United States . The Italian candies are known as confetti, while the favors made with them are known as bombonieres.These unique confetti are still made by hand in a four-day process with a recipe over 300 years old. The company still uses some of the original equipment. 'Confetti' are similar to the Jordan almonds we have here in the USA, but these candies have centers of almonds, chocolate or other delicacies. They are starch and flour-free making them taste delicious and unlike any candies used for wedding favors.

Confetti Pelino & Bomboniera USA (web site: imports beautiful confetti favors from Italy. All favors are custom-designed and hand-made in Italy to your specifications. Confetti Pelino & Bomboniera USA are the only company in the United States to import these candies and favors, you will not find them anywhere else.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Italian Wedding Traditions - Luck and Love

An Italian wedding day starts out early with a wedding mass and lasts into the evening with eating, dancing and drinking.  Luck or the lack of it, and warding off bad luck or evil is a big part of Italian wedding traditions.  Weddings on Sunday are considered the luckiest, and rain is a sign of good luck for an Italian bride.  There is an Italian proverb that says: “Sposa bagnata, sposa fortunate.”  Wearing green the night before the wedding is considered to bring luck to the newly married couple.  Traditionally the bride wore a veil to protect and hide her from jealous spirits, and tearing the brides veil slightly was considered good luck, while the groom carried a piece of iron in his pocket, known as Toc Ferro, to ward off the evil eye.  It was bad luck for the bride to wear gold before or during her wedding.  All the men at the wedding may kiss the bride for good luck.  In southern Italy at the end of the wedding it is customary to break a vase or glass.  The number of pieces it shatters into are believed to be the number of years the couple would be married happily.  Another custom that is carried through to today is the wedding favor called 'confetti' or "bomboniera."  Confetti fiori were developed in the 16th century by nuns of the Santa Chirara convent in Sulmona. Sugared almonds, which were already being given out on special occasions in bundles of five for good luck, were fashioned into flowers with the five petals signifying health, happiness, prosperity, fertility, and a long life. For good luck the favor should have either five or seven confetti in it.  In ancient Rome, a loaf of wheat bread was broken over the heads of the bride and groom to ensure a fertile and fulfilling life. Guests would eat the crumbs for good luck. Symbolic foods for good luck include twists of fried dough, powdered with sugar, called bow ties wanda, and Italian wedding candy.  As you can see, Italian weddings are rich in traditions to ensure the happiness of the couple, consider choosing a few to use for your wedding day.

So, You're Having an Italian Wedding!

Whether you're planning a wedding where both families are Italian or where just one side of the family is, Italian weddings have their own unique traditions that can enhance your wedding.  While replicating every tradition would be over the top, adding a few to honor the traditions of family can make the day a special one for all.  I hope some of the ideas I give you will help you plan a unique wedding with Italian traditions throughout.