Celebrating La Befana and Using up that Panettone! CHIN TV Sunday January 3rd, 2021

The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated in many countries and I grew up enjoying the arrival of La Befana (think of her as a Christmas witch). The grandkids were told stories of this witch who would leave oranges, cookies and chocolates for the kids that were good and the kids that were not would get coal in their shoes. I'm pretty sure my dad told me stories of how much coal he got in his shoes! (I'm pretty sure it was to scare me) 

It really is a great way to enjoy this holiday season and bake up some more cookies to share with family. Having some extra mandarins, clementines or oranges around is perfect to set along side the cookies. It's like the opposite of leaving cookies for Santa you get them instead!

Cookies for La Befana (Biscotti di Nonna)

Something a little sweet to celebrate the arrival of La Befana on January 6th. The feast of the Epiphany is celebrated in many countries and Italy welcomes the arrival of this “witch” to bring sweet treats and small gifts for children. These cookies are similar to many my Nonna and aunts would make for the kids to enjoy (they even snuck in a little rum).

1 3/4 cups (375 mL) all purpose flour 
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
Pinch salt  
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened 
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar 
1 large egg
2 tsp (10 mL) rum (optional) 
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon zest 
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla paste or extract 
1 egg white, lightly beaten

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. 
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg until combined. Beat in rum, lemon zest and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture to combine. Mix dough with hands to bring together and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until chilled. 
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. Using cookie cutters cut out cookies, rerolling scraps of dough to cut out more cookies. 
Place on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Brush cookies lightly with egg white and add a few sprinkles. Bake in 350ºF (180ºC) oven for about 8 minutes or until cookies are set and light golden on bottom. Let cool completely before enjoying. 
Makes about 2 dozen cookies. 

And what about all that panettone you got for Christmas? Use it up in many different ways, we love it for French Toast or make a Nutella stuffed version, it's also great to use for grill cheese sandwiches! But this is still one of my favourite ways to use up holiday panettone for brunch, breakfast or even dessert! Now that they are sale go pick some extras up and freeze them to make later in January for a winter warm up!

Panettone Bread Pudding

Panettone is a fruit studded sweet bread that is enjoyed by Italians all over the world. It’s traditionally served over the holiday season, but here it’s prepared differently as a warm bread pudding.  A perfect ending to a meal or as a comforting snack after a cold winter’s night. A super easy way to get rid of all those panettone you get for Christmas! Or better yet, wait until after the holidays and pick them up on sale. A great dessert for winter weather all season long.

8 cups (2 L) cubed Panettone bread (about half of a panettone)
1/4 cup (50 mL) golden raisins
1/4 cup (50 mL) cut mixed peel (optional)
5 eggs

3 cups (750 mL) milk or soy beverage

3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated orange rind
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
Orange Marmalade Sauce:
1/2 cup (125 mL) orange marmalade
1/4 cup (50 mL) orange juice
2 tsp (10 mL) lemon juice
Pinch cinnamon

Sprinkle bread in the bottom of a greased 10-inch (2.5 L) oval baking dish. Sprinkle raisins and candied orange, if using, over top. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, orange rind and vanilla. Pour over bread mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.  

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) 
Uncover and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden and knife inserted in centre comes out clean.

Orange Marmalade Sauce: Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat marmalade, orange and lemon juices and cinnamon over medium heat until hot. Serve with pudding.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

From Emily Richards’ Per La Famiglia cookbook


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