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Recipes: Italian Chocolate and Sesame Cookies

Diane Alessandra, the News' December Cook of the Month, likes to offer these iced Italian chocolate spheres to her guests. They're supposed to be tender when they're done, so don't overbake them, she warns. Below, her sesame-coated gigilani cookies are representative of a style often enjoyed in Italy with an espresso or glass of red wine, she said.

Diane Alessandra's Italian Chocolate Cookies

4 cups flour
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup cocoa
1 pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups margarine or butter (3 sticks)
1 cup walnuts
1 cup raisins, regular or golden
1 cup milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients except nuts and raisins with butter or margarine until mixture is the texture of cornmeal. Add milk, and fold in raisins and nuts.
Roll into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake in preheated for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake; cookies will be slightly soft until they cool.
Remove from oven, and let cool. Frost with a powdered sugar and milk frosting (2 cups confestioners' sugar beaten with 1/3 cup milk and 1 tablespoon softened butter). 

Diane Alessandra’s Gigilani (Italian Sesame Seed cookies)

2 cups (4 sticks) butter
6 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 ½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
¼ cup milk, plus 2 cups for dipping
3 eggs
2 cups sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix butter and flour like you would when making pie crust. Flour will look like coarse meal. Mix in baking powder and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, with dashes of milk until 1/4 cup is added. Add vanilla, and mix until just combined. Don't over-mix.

Take about 1 tablespoon of mixture. Roll into ball and dip into a bowl of milk and then into sesame seeds. Roll into log shape.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes till golden brown.

Yields about 5 dozen.




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