Italian Wine Cookies are known in Italy as Ciambelline al Vino or Biscotti al Vino Rosso. They are rustic, inexpensive and delicious cookies made with wine, typical of the Roman cucina povera.
They are made without butter or eggs. You need just a few simple ingredients: flour, sugar, red or white wine, oil and a pinch of yeast. From this dough, you have to make small ropes that you shape into a doughnut, or ciambelle in Italian.
Sprinkle them with granulated sugar and put them in the oven. Here they bake and become fragrant and crumbly cookies with a caramelized surface. They are often flavored with aniseed.
These wonderful wine cookies are part of the tradition of the Lazio cuisine. Today they are widespread throughout central Italy, especially in the wine-producing areas.
The origin is certainly in the Castelli Romani area, especially in Frascati.
Here, in fact, there is an ancient wine tradition. And these Italian small donuts made with wine are born from the history and flavors of this land.
In Lazio they are called “‘mbriachelle”, which means “drunk” in Roman dialect, because they are made with wine.
To prepare them, you can use either red wine, as tradition dictates, or white wine, in which case the ciambelline will take on a lighter, golden color.
Remember that the alcohol evaporates during cooking, so they are safe for children to eat.
These cookies are delicious with a good coffee after dinner or as a tasty snack.
But if you are in Rome, you must do as the Romans do and respect their traditions. To enjoy them properly, you must soak them in wine, to the point of dipping your fingers!
This is the traditional Italian recipe for wine cookies: tasty, original and affordable for everyone. With these cookies you can pamper and surprise your guests. So let’s see how to make these simple “ciambelle al vino” that taste of Italian tradition and antiquity.
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- Prep Time: 20 Min
- Rest Time: 20 Min
- Cook Time: 20 Min
- Servings: about 30 cookies
- 300 g (2 1/3 cups) of “00” flour
- 100 ml (~1/2 cup) of extra virgin olive oil
- 100 g (1/2 cup) of granulated sugar + about 4 tablespoons for the topping
- 8 g (~1/2 tablespoon) of baking powder
- 100 ml (~1/2 cup) of red or white dry wine
- 1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds (optional)
Italian Wine Cookies: Instructions
Step 1) – To prepare the dough for the Italian wine cookies, first pour the flour into a bowl. Then make a hollow in the center and pour in the wine and the EVO oil.
Step 2) – Now add the sugar and, if you like the taste, you can add half a teaspoon of aniseed at this point.
Stir with a wooden spoon to combine all the ingredients.
Step 3) – Then add the baking powder and mix until the mixture has the consistency of a dough. Then switch to kneading with your hands.
Step 4) – Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead by hand until you have a firm, homogeneous ball of dough.
Place in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Let rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
Step 5) – At the end of the resting time, take the dough and start forming small doughnut-shaped cookies.
Take about 30 grams (1 ounce) of dough and roll it into rolls about 15 cm (6 inches) long. Fold the rolls back on themselves and close to form a ring.
Step 6) – Now dip the cookies in a generous amount of granulated sugar.
Step 7) – Place the ciambelle on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Be sure to space the cookies well apart.
PLEASE NOTE: During baking, the cookies will puff up a bit and may stick together if they are too close together.
Bake the wine cookies in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) for 20 minutes.
Step 8) – Remove your Italian wine cookies from the oven, let them cool and serve.
They are crispy, caramelized and crumbly ciambelline al vino with a unique aroma! Dip them in wine and enjoy!
How to Store Italian Wine Cookies
Wine cookies will keep their fragrance for about 10 days at room temperature if stored tightly sealed in a tin or cookie jar.
We do not recommend freezing.
You can also package them nicely, sealed tightly in clear food-grade paper with a ribbon. They make the perfect gift for your friends!
How to Serve Italian Wine Cookies
These crumbly little wine cookies are delicious at room temperature and, as we have seen, will keep for several days if stored well.
But fresh out of the oven, when they are still slightly warm, they are at their best!
You can eat them with coffee after lunch or after dinner, possibly with a small glass of sweet wine, such as Vin Santo or Moscato.
Traditionally, in the old trattorias of the Castelli Romani, during the harvest season, people used to dip these small cookies in the new red wine and enjoy them with friends. You must try it!
Wine Cookies: Some Tips and Variations
- RED WINE: You can use either red or white wine to make wine cookies. In ancient times, red wine was most commonly used because it was probably the most widely available. With red wine you will get cookies with a slightly darker color and a more intense flavor.
- WHITE WINE: White wine cookies will be lighter in color and flavor but more golden.
- ANISEED AND OTHER AROMAS: Wine cookies are often flavored with aniseed. If you do not have or do not like aniseed, you can easily omit it or replace it with cinnamon or clove powder.
- NUTS: You can also add chopped walnuts to the dough to enrich the cookies.
- SUGAR: The last addition of granulated sugar before baking is to caramelize the cookies, which should have a characteristic light crust. However, if you prefer to use less sugar and make cookies without an outer crust, you can sprinkle powdered sugar on the surface before serving.
Ciambelle al Mosto di Marino
There are some local variations of the traditional recipe for ciambelle al vino.
The most famous is that of the “Ciambelle al mosto di Marino” (small doughnuts with must from Marino), a small town in the Colli Romani. They are made with wine must.
There is also a legend about this version.
The story goes that a baker in Marino began to make cookies with grape must. The result was much appreciated, but the baker never revealed the recipe. After her death, wine must cookies made according to the baker’s recipe were not produced in the town for a long time.
In the years that followed, the people of Marino slowly began to make them again, so much so that they became a symbol of the town. It’s even said that when Cola di Rienzo invaded the town, a mule carrying two baskets full of ciambelle was enough to drive him away!
Other variations are the “Ciambelle Degli sposi” with lemon zest and sprinkles. They were named after the ancient custom of giving the bride and groom a certain number of ciambelle, according to the degree of their relationship.
Another variation worth mentioning is the “Ciambelle al Vino moscato di Terracina” (wine cookies with Moscato from Terracina).
History and Origins of Italian Wine Cookies Recipe
The origins of Ciambelline al vino are very ancient and are linked to the peasant culture of the Lazio countryside.
These delicious wine cookies were a humble treat, made with whatever was available at home.
Although there is no exact place where the recipe for these cookies would have originated, the area indicated is the Castelli Romani.