I've always been proud of my petite stature and not-so-petite appetite, and was excited to meet a kindred spirit when I got my hands on "Small, Sweet, and Italian: Tiny Tasty Treats from Sweet Maria's Bakery." In Maria Bruscino Sanchez's new cookbook, she invites home cooks into her sugary world, enticing them with miniature versions of her (and soon-to-be our) favorite desserts with an Italian flare.
Although pint-size sweet endings seem to be everywhere these days, Ms. Sanchez sets herself apart from the crowd. She pairs recipes with stories from her kitchen-centric family upbringing and insider experiences as a successful owner of Sweet Maria's in Waterbury, Conn. She's written a cookbook that reads more like a collection of short stories.
Recipes are straightforward, ingredients easy to find and finished products as dazzling as they are distinctly Italian. With more than 75 pastries to choose from -- good luck with that! -- Ms. Sanchez proves that miniature bites can pack big and bold flavors. After all, isn't one of the perks of smaller portions the ability to sample as many as you like?
Her formula for petite Pumpkin Biscottini, or Biscottini de Zucca, adds a seasonal twist to the classic twice-baked Italian cookie. Fresh pumpkin, warm spices and a drizzle of cinnamon icing elevate this coffee-dunking-afterthought to an irresistible treat that will appeal to sweet tooths of all ages. Arrange them on an antipasto platter, serve with a scoop of ice cream for dessert or package in clear bags tied with colorful ribbon for a hostess gift anyone would be happy to receive.
Although the shelf life on these biscottini is a few weeks, don't be surprised if they vanish after a few days. Good things do, indeed, come in small packages!
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 extra-large eggs
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
For the Cinnamon Icing
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon ground
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter and the granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light. Add the eggs and pumpkin puree and mix well on medium speed.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, cloves, nutmeg, and salt and mix until well blended.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; the dough should be soft but not sticky. If sticky, knead in additional flour. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a loaf about 12 inches long. Place the loaves on lined baking sheets, spacing them 4 inches apart.
Bake the loaves for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the loaves on the baking sheets or transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Place the cooled loaves on a cutting board. Carefully slice the loaves, diagonally, into ½-inch-wide slices.
Return the cookies to the baking sheets in a single layer. Bake the biscottini for another 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove the baking sheets from the oven. Cool the biscottini on the baking sheet. Stack the biscottini upright for the drizzle.
To make the icing
Combine the confectioners’ sugar, water, and cinnamon and mix until smooth. Using a fork, generously drizzle the icing over the tops of the biscottini. Let dry for 1 to 2 hours, or overnight. Makes 48 biscottini.
—“Small, Sweet, and Italian Maria Bruscino Sanchez (St. Martin’s, 2013, $27.99)
Katy Zeglen, who has yet to meet a dessert, big or small, she didn't love, blogs at Baking, Domesticity & All Things Mini, or http://bakingdomesticityallthingsmini.blogspot.com. There she's giving away a copy of "Small, Sweet, and Italian." Email email@example.com.