Have you ever visited a place and felt immediate inspiration? I have, a handful of times. Not in Paris, where a sense of wariness and the scent of garbage marred anything good; nor in Berlin, where a cold snap and room service tempted me away. But, a few weeks ago, Rome caught my eye.
With family holidaying in the city, it was a hard opportunity to pass up. Stepping off the plane, I was struck by two things: first, the heat – warm and dry even by Indian summer standards – and second, the beauty. Having never visited a Med country, I didn’t have any expectations. But if I had, Rome passed them.
But it wasn’t just the architecture, or the sun-soaked streets dotted with tourists, or the history hidden in every avenue – it was the feeling, the atmosphere… and, perhaps most importantly, the food. As someone whose entire hobby list can be boiled down to ‘food’, experiencing Rome was a dream. From cacio e pepe to homemade gelato and exquisite carbonara, it was everything I’d hoped it might be.
And when I returned, brimming with dreams of food and travel and writing, it only seemed right to mark the occasion with Italian butter cookies – tiny, melting shortbreads with chocolate-dipped tips – as elegant and fleeting as Rome itself.
Italian Butter Cookies
YOU’RE GONNA NEED: a piping bag with a large star tip
1 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 egg + 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1-2 bars dark or milk chocolate, for melting and dipping
1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and two sugars until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat to combine. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture and beat to combine.
3. Scoop the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe into roughly 2in logs onto the baking sheet, about 1in apart.* Bake for 10-12 minutes until just golden.
4. Cool on a wire rack. When completely cooled, dip the ends into the melted chocolate and allow to set on parchment paper.
The dough is difficult to squeeze out of the piping bag. To make it a bit easier, warm the bag in your hands for a few seconds before piping.
Recipe adapted from The Kitchen McCabe.