Tag Archives: cookies

The best Italian Bakery in New Orleans: Angelo Brocato

I am shocked that I do not have a post for Angelo Brocato yet, particularly since it may be our platonic ideal of an Italian bakery in America. First of all, you are greeted by an amazing vintage neon sign. Second, the shop has operated continuously since 1905 (not at this particular location the whole time) and thirdly, it is simply delicious! Every time we visit New Orleans, we have to give their flagship store a visit (214 N Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119, there is also a new branch with ice cream only in the MSY airport). In fact, Angelo Brocato was one of the last places we visited before COVID-19 shut everything down in February 2020. We were so happy to return in 2023!

Though we think of it primarily as a bakery, Angelo Brocato is also a coffee shop and ice cream parlor. The old school copper espresso maker is serious, and you can get any number of classic espresso drinks. However, ice cream was their original claim to fame. A native of Cefalù, Angelo Brocato himself got his start making gelato in Palermo, Sicily before emigrating to New Orleans. The original Angelo Brocato shop opened in the French Quarter in 1905, when it was a hub of New Orleans’ Sicilian immigration wave. Befittingly, there is still gelato on offer by the cup or pint, but also some of the more old-school frozen sliced ice cream treats, which you rarely find anywhere else. These vintage ice cream specialties include torroncino, vanilla and cinnamon; spumoni, pistachio, almond, and tutti frutti; and the cassata, spumoni with a cake layer.

Of course, they also have many pastries, Italian and otherwise: rum baba, cream puffs, eclairs, mini cassata cakes, and holiday specials like the St. Joseph’s Day zeppole. The cannoli are filled to order with the somewhat unorthodox half chocolate and half vanilla cream by default. All of the pastries are delicious, and who can resist a fresh cannolo? This time around, we tried the eclairs for the first time, and M particularly approved, especially since it was filled with chocolate cream. The sfogliatelle are one of L’s favorites, and she also appreciates how they are one of the few places where you can get an authentic mini Sicilian cassata cake (covered in green marzipan and filled with cake and cream – similar to Swedish princesstarta).

However, our favorite treats at Angelo Brocato are the full assortment of Italian cookies, of course. There are dozens of varieties on offer: cuccidati, pignoli, rainbow cookies, biscotti, ricotta cookies, chocolate drops, etc. They also have some rarer varieties like nucotoli (cinnamon spice cookies). You can buy cookies by the piece, pound, or even in sealed packages for some of the more popular varieties. The Sicilian representation in the cookie varieties is significant, and we particularly love their cuccidati and biscotti regina, both of which are staples for St. Joseph’s Day.

We were surprised to learn that Brocato’s moved to their current location only in the 1970s, due to its vintage flair. The store boasts a small amount of seating, but be prepared, because it is not unusual for there to be a sizable wait to order, and to get a table. On St. Joseph’s Day weekend, there was a line out the door both times we visited. Despite the crowd, it is also an interesting time to go, since on St. Joseph’s Day, they even have an altar in the back, showing the traditional elements: shaped breads, fava beans, cookies, etc.. Remaining a local staple for over 100 years, Angelo Brocato will always be one of our New Orleans must-dos. It is a great place to satiate your sweet tooth, and get a taste of bygone Sicilian New Orleans.

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Pisto: The original Neapolitan Pumpkin Spice

Between the two of us, M has the stronger love of pumpkin spice, and every Fall he has to get his fill of this seasonal flavor. What Americans now call pumpkin spice – a variable mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove – is similar to many spice blends around the world, and we just learned of another international pumpkin spice cousin: Neapolitan Pisto (Italian Wikipedia). The key ingredients of the Pisto spice blend are cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, star anise, and coriander. Pisto is a key component of the popular Roccoco and Mostaccioli (below) cookies, which are eaten around the Christmas holidays. Mostaccioli [recipe] are diamond-shaped spicy cookies coated in chocolate, and Roccoco [recipe] are ring shaped with candied fruit. Other Neapolitan holiday cookies like susamielli use Pisto as a major component. You can buy pre-blended Pisto in Naples, but we have never seen it for sale in the US. Fortunately, you can find recipes online like this one from SBS / Italian Street Food.

Mostaccioli by Caleb Lost

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Reginelle / Biscotti Regina for St. Joseph’s Day

March 19th marks St. Joseph’s Day (check out this previous link to find all of our previous St. Joseph’s day posts), a traditional feast day in Italy honoring St. Joseph and his sparing of Sicily from famine. The tradition has now spread widely throughout Italian diaspora communities, especially those with many Sicilian origins. This St. Joseph’s Day is bittersweet since we are unable to go to New Orleans this year, and are celebrating at home, alone. Typically, New Orleans has some of the most elaborate and ornate St. Joseph’s altars and homes, churches and community groups go all out (though not this year of course). Since we have nowhere to go, we are making a small altar of our own this year, including baking some St. Joseph’s Day treats.


St. Joseph’s Day in New Orleans 2019

Traditionally, on a St. Joseph’s Day Table altar there are copious citrus fruits, cakes, lucky fava beans and other offerings, as you can see above. You also usually sit down for a vegetarian meal, typically including pasta con sarde (which we are making for dinner tonight). After visiting an altar you also usually get a bag of cookies and some lucky fava beans to take home. The types of cookies vary, but you will traditionally get some cucidati and some reginelle / Biscotti Regina (sesame seed cookies). This year we decided to make reginelle, as you can see below, since they are one of our favorite cookies any time of year, and are super easy to make. We used the recipe from Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Costantino. I can’t find that recipe online, so there are dozens of other versions to try: Ciao Italia, Marisa’s Italian Kitchen, or A Sicilian Peasant’s Table. Buon Appetito!reginelle2a.jpg

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German Springerle Cookies for the Holidays

Springerle Molds germanyWhile at the Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago we spotted these unique rolling pins and cookie molds amidst the wooden ornaments and whistles at a German handicrafts stand. Far from just being decorative, these “Springerle” pins and molds are used for imprinting designs on traditional German cookies of the same name. Springerle cookies are easy to make, and are basically sugar cookies flavored with anise, as in this recipe. However, traditional recipes call for a more unusual ingredient – baker’s ammonia. What makes these cookies really distinct are their festive designs, which may be stars, hearts, flowers, animals, people, or anything you might imagine. Springerle pins and molds have been common across Germany for centuries, and some of the antique designs truly are artful. If you are not near a German market, you can buy a wide variety of springerle pins or molds online.

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Kahk al-Eid: Egyptian cookies for Eid

flags_of_Egypt Today is Eid Al-Fitr – the breaking of the fast after the month of Ramadan. Of course, this means lavish, delicious feasts. Every country has its own food traditions to celebrate Eid, but all have an iconic dessert or two! Sweet rice/vermicelli puddings are found in India, Pakistan and Burma as a way to celebrate Eid. In Egypt there is a classic cookie: Kahk al-Eid (literally, “Eid Cookie”). These sugary shortbread-like cookies get their kick from a combination of spices including fennel and anise – which may be listed as “Kahk Flavor” in some recipes. Cookies may be made into small circles or can be shaped with a wooden mold, as in this recipe. A simpler recipe is provided by Food Republic, if you do not have access to Kahk spice.


Egyptian Eid Cookies (Kahk) – by Lorenz Khazaleh

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Pastry-Post Doc in Brazil: American-Style Cookies at Besi in Rio

Rua do Carmo, 61 – Centro
Rio de Janeiro

brazilWe are very keen on the Brazilian idea of including cafes in bookstores and other places you might not necessarily expect a cafe. Case in point: Besi Cafe is located in the back of an adorable homegoods and kitchenware store. The cafe is all the way in the back and its is quite difficult to make it past all of the tempting Le Creuset implements and cast iron without buying something (though I suppose that is the point). Besi has a full menu of salads and sandwiches, however the coffee drinks and cookies are the specialties. What is called a “cookie” in Brazil greatly overlaps with what is a cookie in the USA. However, what is often absent from Brazilian bakeries is a good old Tollhouse-Style gooey chocolate chip cookie, or one of those big jumbo soft cookies you find in classic delis.

Besi Cafe

Kitchen goods store + Cafe = Besi

We were kind of homesick for that “big old cookie,” so we were very pleased to hear that Besi Cafe was known for their American-style cookies. When we visited, there were three varieties of cookie on offer (R$6 each): Sea salt chocolate, Triple chocolate chip (milk, dark and white chocolate), and Cinnamon with dark chocolate chips. The sea salt chocolate cookie was almost flat, but had a wonderful flavor (sea salt + chocolate is always a winner combination). The cinnamon and chocolate chip cookie was more leavened and had a strongly cinnamon flavor and was chock-a-block with chips. Of the two varieties, we preferred the chocolate for its flavor, but the texture of the chocolate chip. Unfortunately, Besi did not deliver a cookie that was top notch on all fronts, but rather a series of good cookies. We also greatly enjoyed the cappuccinos with foam art, not heretofore seen in Brazil, (R$ 8) made with Minas Gerais-gown Cafe Suplicy and the loose-leaf Moroccan mint tea ($R 5). While not a perfect imitation, the cookies at Besi are great for a quick fix when a craving hits.

Besi Cafe Cookies

Besi Cafe Cinnamon and chocolate chip cookie (one piece taken out and reassembled)

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Pastry Post-Doc: The irresistable desserts of Momofuku Milk Bar


Momofuku Milk Bar by Robyn Lee

Meet Christina Tosi , the acclaimed chef of NYC’s Momofuko Milk Bar, who is known for her unique, whimsical and nostalgic desserts. We visited Milk Bar in 2010 and fell in love with Tosi’s creations, especially the cereal milk ice cream and the crack pie. However, we are not in NYC every weekend, so we are looking forward to recreating some of those recipes at home. For some of the cookies, there are even official Milk Bar mixes, and Serious Eats did a test of the mixes against Milk Bar-bought cookies (the compost cookie mix was a hit). Tosi came out with a Milk Bar Cookbook that has some of the delightful recipes from the store, which has further inspired bloggers. For other Milk Bar fans, we have found a number of recipes online we wanted to share with you. Feel free to share more in the comments section! Which are your favorites? I’m most looking forward to making the birthday cake, a riff on the childhood classic Funfetti.


Momofuku Milk Bar Cakes and Pies – by Gary Wong


Cakes and Pies


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Traditional Dutch celebration foods for Sinterklaas

Netherlands flagThough in the USA, Santa Claus is the symbol of the holiday season, in Europe it is St. Nicholas that children wait up for on December 5th. Sint Nikolaas, in Dutch, is then typically known as Sinterklaas, and is considered the precursor to the American concept of Santa. The figure of Sinterklaas is indeed similar to Santa, a benevolent figure wearing a red robe and delivering presents to children, though he rides a horse on his journey from house to house. Kids, instead of leaving milk and cookies, leave carrots for the horse beside their shoes (which is where the presents get delivered – if you are naughty you will be left with an empty shoe).

Sweets abound at Sinterklaas celebrations both on the 5th and 6th, including one of our favorites, the crisp, cinnamon speculaas cookies. Other sweet treats include pepernoten (same as German pfeffernüsse) and kruidnoten, similar to speculaas, but in more of a nugget shape.  Many Dutch recipes instruct you to make kruidnoten with pre-blended “speculaas spice” which is definitely not available in the USA. However, to make your own, the Dutch Baker’s Daughter has a good DiY speculaas spice breakdown. Another food tradition is getting a large chocolate letter representing your first name called a chocoladeletter. Sinterklaas is definitely a day with tradition – many of the festive occurrences in this 17th century painting by Jan Steen (note the empty shoe) remain unchanged today.

Jan Steen - Het Sint Nicolaasfeest

Jan Steen – Het Sint Nicolaasfeest / Festival of St. Nicholas

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Domo-kun Cookies

Domo Cookies

Domo Cookies at Diamonds for Dessert

I just came across this post on Diamonds for Dessert on how to make Domo cookies [via Food is My life]. The cute and cuddly Domo is the mascot for the Japanese NHK TV network, and has been incarnated in stickers, posters, stuffed animals, and practically every other form… now even cookies! However, these are not just any cookies, but are a version of Thomas Keller’s famous oreo cookies (TKOs), from Bouchon Bakery. Can’t wait to try these.

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When is a Cookie a Cookie?

Addressing a question that the eaters often contemplate, Slate’s Sara Dickerman recently had a discussion with two foodies, Dorie Greenspan and David Lebovitz, over what exactly makes a cookie a cookie

It’s actually quite hard to define a cookie when you get down to it. The adjective “sweet” usually comes to mind, but I was eating a Dutch windmill cookie the other day and was surprised at how savory it was…. Butter is a fairly universal cookie ingredient but not an essential one, either. Macarons and macaroons and meringues and the like are made with little or none of it. In the end, I suppose my definition of a cookie has something to do with portability and with guilty pleasure….

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