Esse Cookies

By Food52
April 4, 2016
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Author Notes: "These little ‘S’-shaped biscuits are traditionally made at Easter and are perfect for dunking in your milky coffee in the morning. They have a very subtle vanilla flavor with just the merest hint of lemon. Esse biscuits are particular to Venice but I have been unable to discover the significance of the letter S. The only explanation that has been offered is that Venice is known as La Serenissima – The Serene One, but this seems a little tenuous to me. If anyone has any clues, please let me know." — Norman Russell

Recipe and headnote republished with permission from POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) (Bloomsbury USA, 2012).

Makes: 20 cookies

  • 130 grams unsalted butter
  • 120 grams caster sugar
  • 250 grams Italian 00 flour or pizza flour
  • 2 medium, free-range eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cold milk
  1. Place the butter and sugar in a food processor and whizz to combine into a soft paste. Add the flour, egg yolks, vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk gradually, adding the full amount (or more) if the mixture is too dry to be pliant.
  2. Place the mixture on a floured work surface and bring together. Wrap it up in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170° C. Cut off pieces of the chilled dough and roll into cylinders, 15 centimeters long and 2 centimeters in diameter. Bend into S-shapes and put onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until only just golden.
  4. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. They will keep for a good few days.

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