Italian wine cookies with whole wheat flour: a rustic and healthy recipe
Time: prep. 20 min
rest. 30 min
bake 18-20 min
Yields: approx 50 wine cookies
Since I am in Rome after a long time, I wanted to honor Roman cuisine with one of its characteristic recipes. But a short trip to the area of Castelli Romani diverted my intention: I feel quite sentimentally connected to these wonderful spots with lakes, woods, paths immersed in the green, as well as being a fan of their poor but richly flavored cuisine so I decided to dedicate this article to Castelli Romani.
Those who are familiar with the delicacies of the region, know just how enormous the variety of choices can be; among these some are very characteristic recipes and definitely in line with the motto of CHE Food Revolution: easy, traditional, economical, healthy and sustainable; just like these Italian wine cookies or ciambelline al vino.
In the Lazio region they are also called ‘mbriachelle‘ (ubriachelle in Italian, or simply drunk cookies), because in addition to using wine as an ingredient, they are usually dipped in red wine at the end of a meal. But don’t worry, I have experimented dipping them in tea, coffee and even in vegetable milks like soy or oat milk; the result is always very comforting, for everyone, children included: despite a part of alcohol used in the recipes is always present in the final product, the concentration however is really negligible.
Let’s see it in detail.
Our recipe contains 70 ml of red wine for a total of approx 50 wine cookies; let’s assume the wine used has an alcohol value of 13% Vol., which means 100 ml of that wine contains 13 ml of ethanol, and therefore in 70 ml there will be about 9 ml of ethanol; this means that 1 unbaked wine cookie will contain about 0.19 ml of ethanol.
Here are some of the lab results obtained on behalf of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) (1)
Percentage of alcohol retained by preparations
No heat application, immediate consumption
No heat application, overnight storage
Alcohol added to a boiling liquid, and removed by heat (such as mulled wine or Irish coffee)
After 15 minutes of baking
After 30 minutes of baking
As you can see from the table, wine cookies can contain, after baking, about 40% of their initial alcohol content, thus giving each cookie a negligible alcohol by volume (0.07 ml of ethanol per unit)… But this does not mean you should think about consuming as much as you want: remember sugar can be worse for adults nor for children!
Another feature I love about these cookies is that they last a long time; which makes them an excellent alternative for those who, like me, want to limit the usage of oven in the hot summer days: sweat once, make a batch and store them in an airtight container; you’ll see that they’ll keep their freshness for up to 2 weeks (unlike the 4-5 days of cookies made with richer, more noble ingredients).
There is no real recipe; after all, just like all the ancient recipes, even wine cookies were weighted “by rule of thumb”, with what was available at home.
However it seems to me strange that in ancient times, they were using refined flour: I doubt 200 years ago poor farmers of Latium area could have had plenty of it at home.
That’s why in my recipe I use a mix of wholemeal flour and very limited refined flour: the result is tasty, crunchy cookies, while still healthy and credibly traditional!
Since I love to reduce the health threatening ingredients, I modified the formulation by almost halving the amount of sugar; now finally it is a recipe that can satisfy everyone, but always in moderation.
Ingredients for about 50 wine cookies
170 g whole wheat flour
70 g all type flour
50 g of brown sugar (the traditional recipe calls for more sugar, but believe me, less is more)
70 ml red wine (if you prefer a sweet wine such as moscato, you can also halve the quantity of sugar)
60 ml extra virgin olive oil (some people find the taste of ev olive oil too strong, so use half and half with seed oil)
½ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon vinegar (or 4 g instant baking powder)
1 teaspoon anise or fennel seeds (optional, but they match really fine)
a pinch of salt
for garnish on top
about 20 grams of brown sugar, granulated
Mix very well all the ingredients in a large container, except the vinegar and bicarbonate mix, and let it rest for half an hour.
Then add the vinegar and bicarbonate mix and knead the dough until it becomes homogeneous, if necessary add more wine.
Now you can turn on the oven by setting it to 170 degrees (with forced ventilation) or 180 degrees (static).
First form small balls, then once the dough has been stretched between the palms, create the rings: watch the video below.
Before arranging them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pass them in a bowl containing sugar for the garnish of the top: if you pay attention, about 20 grams of sugar will be enough to cover all 50 cookies.
Bake them for about 20 minutes, but don’t wait until they become very brown: remember that the cookies continue to cook even once they are out of the oven.
When cooled, you can put them in an airtight container, ready to be consumed and enjoyed within two weeks: of course it will be difficult to last that long!
Enjoy your wine cookies and good revolution to all
1) Augustin J, Augustin E, Cutrufelli RL, Hagen SR, Teitzel C. Alcohol retention in food preparation. J Am Diet Assoc. 1992 Apr; 92(4):486-8. PMID: 1556354.