Cooking with your kids is where it all begins. It's during these special moments in the kitchen where memories are created, stories are told, and culture and tradition is passed down. This is who we are and how we share through the wonderful food we make.
In this blog post, I would like to share a very special recipe for one of my absolute favourite cookies that my mom, Filomena, has been making for over 50 years. It’s light, crispy, sweet, easy and fun to make with kids.
Great for any occassion all-year-round, Guandi are most commonly made for Carnevale, which began on Wednesday, and also Christmas. It consists of a simple dough that is rolled out thin and cut using a pastry cutter with jagged edges. It is then wrapped around your hand, or “glove” (translation of the word Guandi) over and through to create a bow. Lightly fried and dusted with powdered sugar, no occasion is quite the same without a big plate of Guandi!
This recipe makes a big batch and I recommend you make it in full. I promise you they will not last!
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package vanilla powder (or ½ tablespoon vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs at room temperature
1 oz Liquore Strega (an Italian herbal liqueur)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
vegetable oil for deep frying
powdered sugar to dust Guandi
- Place dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add all wet ingredients, then using a fork or the handle of a wooden spoon, mix until the dough starts to come together.
- Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for a 5-8 minutes or until the dough is soft, smooth and well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.
- Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with one piece while others remain covered, roll out in a pasta machine or using a rolling pin to the thickness of 1/16th inch.
- Using a shpro or fluted pastry wheel, cut the dough into ½ inch strips that are approximately 6 inches long.
- Pull the strips gently and tie into a loose bow. Deep fry in a deep pot with 3-4 inches of vegetable oil heated to 375 degrees. Work in batches of 4-5, turning them so they become golden all over. About 1-2 minutes.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. Dust with plenty of powdered sugar all over when ready to serve.
What I always liked best about this recipe, besides eating the powdered sugar, was using the “shpro” (Italian word for pastry cutter) to make all different shapes. Adam - my 6 year old - considers himself a professional cutter boy, while David, 3 ½ years old, just wants to eat! As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, like father like son.
It’s funny to see how things have come full circle in my life. I can remember back to my childhood when my brother and I were learning to make Guandi. Now, it’s my two sons who are blowing the powdered sugar off of the cookies and into each other’s faces. Aside from having my kitchen looking like it snowed inside, and the dealing with the occasional broken egg on the floor, I would not have it any other way.