When the Befana arrives it is a sign that the holiday season is coming to the end. The marathon of Christmas, New Year’s and finally the Befana. It is the time when Italians may take one of their vacation weeks and hit the slopes or just visit family.
The calze, large stockings, are on sale in all the shops, most already filled with candy and toys. There are different themes from Disney characters to your favorite soccer team. Of course, not everyone has been good, so there is also the candy coal! Carbone, rocks in your socks if you have been bad.
There are some regional desserts also for the Befana, nearby they make Befanini, a simple cookie with sprinkles.
A simple sweet, cookies based on the basic Pasta Frolla, the Italian butter crust for pie, but cut into shapes and decorated with colored sprinkles. Since there are no kids in my house, I made the cookies simply round.
The recipe is from the region near Lucca and Viareggio called the Lunigiana. Florence doesn’t really have the tradition of baking the cookies for the holiday. Most kids get the coal as a joke anyway. It is PURE SUGAR.
I made a small batch. the difference between the pasta frolla and this dough, is that there is a little liquore added and baking powder. ( I used the simple one, without vanilla).The recipe traditionally has anise seeds, orange zest or a little sambuca in the dough.
Remember, Italians use the 00 flour which is like White Lily in the USA a very light low gluten flour.
Just as you think that the holidays are over, yet another feast begins. Carnevale, the period before Easter.
Italians adore Carnevale, most people have probably seen or at least heard of the celebrations in Venice with their extravagant costumes. But one of my personal favorites is the Carneval in Viareggio with floats.