2019: A… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Anginettes
I’m back for “Year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!
My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite yet understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew. 2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on. 2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s in Georgia and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!
I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!
“The most famous and loved Italian cookie”
The “Anginette” cookie was one of the first things I learned about when I married into an Italian family… every family seems to have a slightly different recipe… and everyone always says, “mine is the best.” Go to any bridal or wedding shower and you’ll find many different varieties and styles… either plain frosted or colored with sprinkles.
Grandma Minnie (left) sampling the cookie tray!
One of the first things my mother in law told me, was that when you go to a bridal or baby shower, don’t dawdle in going to the cookie table at the end of the shower… if you snooze, you’ll loose. Let me explain… the showers have a table dedicated just to cookies, often made by close family members and friends. I was amazed at my first showers in watching the women walk in with beautiful decorated cookie trays, all tied with ribbons and bows… and those cookie tables were the most coveted! Often you’d see many checking them out ahead of time… there’s another motive to that… they were checking out which cookie tray they wanted to hit first.
Cookie tray at our wedding reception
Who knew there were “rules” at showers…. I thought you went to watch the bride or mother-to-be open gifts… but I quickly learned another reason… to rush the cookie table! Showers were so different from the few I attended before turned nineteen. We only had showers given in the home where I grew up. If it was for a bride, she often had several showers given by family or friends. One would be a “kitchen” shower in a home, often attended by family or friends of the mother… another might be a “lingerie” shower which often was for the younger friends of the bride… while another would be a “home” shower, maybe given by her mother in law. You brought a gift to match the type of shower you attended. The showers I soon now attended were more like mini weddings!
Anginettes headed to a shower!
The most prized cookie on cookie trays my mother in law first told me to choose, was the Pignoli cookie… “always choose those first” she’d say. The Anginette cookie fell right in behind them… and every baker made a different version… frosted with decorative sprinkles. I always do the lemon frosting and usually don’t do sprinkles unless I’m taking them to a shower or a special occasion… why bother if you don’t have to… as you know those sprinkles end up all over the place!
It was my mother in law (Celia) who taught me to cook as a nineteen year old newly married bride… I knew nothing! I love seeing the famous wagon wheel light she “had to have” for the kitchen. I saved that kitchen light when the house was closed up… not sure what I’ll do with it… other than save for a memory.
My first recipe came from my mother in law… they were great cookies, but later her recipe changed after returning home from a bridal shower… she came home with a new Anginette recipe made with ricotta… and couldn’t wait to make them. The ricotta keeps the cookie softer and last longer. She loved them so much that she made them quite often in perfecting the recipe and hers soon became well known in the family; she was often asked by friends to make cookie trays to sell.
Rowdy…. aka… the Anginette cookie thief!
There was only one mishap with her Anginettes… while we were over one Saturday afternoon, along with the family dog Rowdy, a Collie… who was one of the best well behaved dogs ever. As we sat in the den watching TV… hearing no noise… Rowdy couldn’t resist a cookie…actually he couldn’t resist the entire dish of cookies sitting on the counter. We never did figure out how he managed to remove the glass dish of cookies without making any noise… or break the dish… but he managed… and ate all the cookies! In as much as we were upset that we had no cookies… it was comical to think how he became sneaky enough to steal her cookies. My mother in law didn’t even get mad at him… he was well-loved! I guess she had to make more cookies later… after Rowdy went home!
Anginettes were always one of my favorite cookies after eating that very first one and I quickly learned later to make them… pretty much after my mother in law stopped baking. When I went to work full-time, my husband tried his hand at them… and I have to admit, he now makes them the best! He’s a perfectionist in his baking… with everything uniform in sizing… actually everything he bakes or cooks always has the same size chopped ingredients; he chops and dices uniformerly. I think I’m going to have to “hint-hint” to him that I’d love to have Anginette cookies with my coffee soon, as all this writing and cookie talk is making me crave one.
Hubby making Anginettes!
Back to the many type of Anginette cookie types
As I mentioned before, every family baker had a different recipe, somewhat similar… but they all tasted and looked slightly different. Grandma Minnie rolled her balls of dough in a rope, folding the edges over, making a circle with ends draped over the edge. Most everyone else rolled them into a ball. The sprinkles they first used were those hard candy-like… that crunched when you bit into the cookie. I actually cracked a filling once on those… so I hesitated in eating them after that. The sprinkles most often used today are soft, with many colors to choose from. We usually only do the lemon confectioner frosting on the ones we bake for ourselves, unless we’re taking them somewhere… then I opt to add sprinkles.
Grandma Minnie never measured when she cooked. She scooped up flour in her soup dishes.
In searching through my recipe box and my mother in laws recipe books, I discovered her mother in laws (Nonni) spice Anginette recipe, which my husband said she liked the best and often made. That recipe called for milk, but also listed spices of cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon… I don’t think she added all those… it was probably when she changed it to be a spice Anginette cookie. My son remembers making them with his grandmother once… but doesn’t remember now whether he liked them or not. In as I don’t remember them being made, they probably weren’t liked.
I have a great spice Anginette cookie recipe given to me by friend Debby from work. The first time I made them, I discovered that I had no ground cloves, and when I went to buy, I quickly discovered how expensive ground cloves were. I went to the dollar store and bought whole cloves… how hard could it be to grind my own and save a few dollars… well, it would have been easier to have just paid the price for someone else doing all that work! I spent a few hours grinding them slowly and it took more than just a few to grind up for all I needed. Oh well, you live and learn… and laugh about it later on!
I also found several other Anginette recipes… a chocolate chip anginette, also from friend Debby; I’ll share recipe at end. Actually anything Debby brought to work was exceptionally tasty and quickly disappeared… if the word was out that she had goodies… we all ran!
Aunt Nancy remembers how her mothers’ (Grandma Minnie) Anginettes were made using more eggs as her liquid instead of OJ… not sure why she did that… maybe because she never kept OJ on hand in those days. Most everyone else made them the same way, but added the OJ. While they are very tasty, they usually only stay nice and soft on the first couple days… that’s why Celia changed to adding ricotta, as the OJ ones didn’t keep as well.
Uncle Johnny always made his mothers Anginettes, but with the OJ instead of the extra eggs. My cousins, Gina, Nancy and Johnny only called them “grandma cookies“… the only name they grew up knowing them by… and always the first Christmas Eve cookie they ate!
Hubby’s grandmother, Giacinta Insalaco, (Nonni) made her Anginettes with milk and even adding cocoa at times: she only used milk as a liquid, never OJ. Hubby’s Grandma Minnie (Cambino) only used lots of eggs as her liquid and extra baking powder. My thinking is they probably all used milk in the early years as OJ wasn’t a commodity kept in the house, but they always had milk and eggs; milk was probably switched in later years to OJ.
You can see how the recipes have changed from oleo and Crisco to now all butter and from the original use of milk to orange juice and now even using ricotta as the liquid. I also have another recipe from a friend that calls for oil as the liquid with 6 eggs and even 6 teaspoons of baking powder. I find all the changes interesting as I’ve compared the many recipes found in my recipe box.
Aunt Nancy’s Anginettes
Mini chocolate chips work the best!
Chocolate Spice Anginette
- 4 cups a.p. flour
- 1 cup cocoa
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups oil / more if needed (add 1 cup first, then add more when needed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon crushed cloves
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Mix all ingredients in one bowl, adding more oil as needed to form a nice ball rolling consistency. Start with 1 cup oil and work up to the 1 1/2 cups if needed. Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet… flatten slightly with fingers or leave as a ball.
Bake 350 oven for 10/15 minutes. Do not overbake – cool before frosting… add chocolate sprinkles or crushed nuts if desired. Let dry well before stacking on dish.
Aunt Mary, the best baker in the family devised a different Anginette recipe, cutting down her original one to turn into a smaller loaf cookie… frosting and cutting like biscotti. The recipe makes two loaves… quick and easy!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my memories down the lane of “Anginette” recipes… and if you decide to give them a try, do drop me a line. Or if you have a favorite different recipe, I’d love to hear about it… I love comparing how they’ve changed through the years! Anginettes are time consuming to make… and I do love how Aunt Mary made herself a shorter and easier recipe to make just a small amount of the cookie.
Continue reading more of the A to Z… Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories
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