Traditions during the holiday season vary from culture to culture, but there's one that seems to be universal: baking cookies. The reason the shared tradition exists, historian Frederick Opie, Ph.D., explains to Martha Stewart, is that holidays are universally associated with gift-giving and hosting gatherings. Cookies have long been considered the perfect food to share with others, which is why they're seen as such a festive treat.
In Austria, for example, Linzer cookies are often made during the holidays, while gingerbread cookies are more common in America. In Italy, on the other hand, biscotti is perhaps the most well-known holiday cookie. Another type of Italian cookie is also worth making this season, called cavallucci. Translating roughly to "horsemen's cookies" in Italian, cavallucci cookies have been a Christmas staple in the Tuscany region since the Renaissance. In this day and age, they're also an easy treat to make ahead during the busy holiday season.
Read more: 8 Baking Sheet Mistakes You Want To Avoid
Making Cavallucci In Advance
Cavallucci cookies have a long history of being convenient and shelf-stable. During the 16th century, people making long journeys by horse would often bring them along their travels because of how well they held up, hence the name "horsemen's cookies." As long as you keep them in an airtight container, cavallucci cookies can stay fresh for up to three weeks at room temperature, which means you can make them ahead of your Christmas parties and cookie swaps without them going stale.
Cavallucci cookie dough can also be stored longer than other types of cookie dough. While most homemade cookie dough typically lasts up to five days in the fridge or six to 12 months in the freezer, it's risky to save it any longer because of the eggs. Cavallucci, on the other hand, is made primarily of flour and sugar syrup or honey. Therefore, if you make the dough well before you plan to bake it, you don't have to worry about any eggs spoiling, and you can enjoy your cavallucci whenever you want.
The Difference Between Biscotti And Cavallucci
If you like biscotti, cavallucci cookies will taste pretty familiar. Traditionally, biscotti gets its flavor from ingredients including anise, almond, and hazelnut. You may find dried fruit and chocolate in some versions. Like biscotti, cavallucci is made with anise, fruit, and a variety of nuts, though some recipes also call for warm spices such as coriander, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The flavor profile that results is nearly identical.
Despite how similar they taste, there are obvious differences between biscotti and cavallucci, the main one being their shape. With biscotti, the dough is formed into logs, resulting in longer, oblong-shaped cookies. Conversely, Cavallucci is round like most cookies because the dough is scooped onto the baking sheet. Since they aren't twice-baked like biscotti, cavallucci has a different texture. Instead of being hard and crunchy like biscotti, these are much softer and moist, and if made correctly, only the exterior should be crisp. Ultimately, both are delicious holiday treats; however, you can't beat the convenience of a cavallucci cookie.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.