Olive oil and wine ciambelline cookies


What an exciting and busy time this is! Summer is finished and fall has descended on us with all its gorgeous beauty. Olive harvest is well underway. This year we are gifted by the much needed help of friends who have come all the way from Singapore for the event, how delightful!

It’s a lot of work but we are having a fabulous time. Beside picking, we have been doing a great deal of laughing, chatting, cooking and drinking. We’ll probably be ready  in one more day and then we’ll need to wait until next week for the pressing and bottling to enjoy our emerald liquid.

The only and real “Alla Madonna del Piatto olive oil“.
The last few B&B/cooking guests will be arriving this week-end for our first – of I hope many – Pasta and Vino Tour. We should actually call it Pasta and Vino and Olive oil tour as it will be heavy on the bruschetta ;).

Pasta and Vino

This is an extraordinary time to be here, wineries are buzzing with activity, there are food festivals and farmer markets in many of the hilltop villages. Olive mills are running 24/7, everybody is out and about with nets and ladders to pick olives until dusk. And if that was not enough, there are mushrooms, truffle, thick farro soups, polenta, pumpkin, fresh fennel and cime di rapa to add to the cornucopia of incredible foods available just now. Add the salami and life is perfect.

Last night, tired after a day of trodding up and down the hill, we prepared a light dish of homemade gnocchi with pesto and these cookies. The term ciambelline means small ring cookies. They are as “seasonal” as a cookie can get as they are made with wine and olive oil. One can while the night away with a tray of these and a good bottle of sweet wine to dip them in.



  • 450 gr (3 3/4 cups) whole purpose four, better if organic and unbleached
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) dessert or red wine
  • 2 tablespoon anise seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 130 gr (3/4 cup not packed)  light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar for coating


Preheat oven at 160 °C (340 ° F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place all dry ingredients – except the white sugar – in a food processor bowl. Using the blade at high speed, add the oil and wine and blend until most of the mixture forms a soft ball of dough, about 2 minutes.

If you don’t have a food processor or mixer, make the dough in a large bowl by hand and transfer on a lightly floured worktop.

Sprinkle the white sugar on a large flat plate or cutting board. On the worktop, roll the dough into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) thick cylinders. Cut each cylinder into 10 cm (5 inch) pieces and roll them into the white sugar to coat.

roll the dough cycilinders in sugar, then form the rings
roll the dough cylinders in sugar, then form the rings

Pinch the ends of each cylinder together to form a ring.
Carefully arrange the rings on a the baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 min until just golden around the sides.

Cool on a wire rack and serve with sweet wine like a vinsanto, passito or marsala or a big mug of herbal tea.
Makes approximately 36 ciambelline.


  1. Letizia, These cookies look delicious!! A little while ago I had made some marsala wine sweet taralli and wanted to share the recipe on my blog, but hadn’t yet. I think this may be the encouragement I needed. Can’t wait to try this recipe! And I so wish I could be there to try your amazing olive oil!!

  2. These look wonderful – although I have never seen anise seeds at the spice shop. They usually tell me that fennel seeds are the same. Now I know they haven’t been truthful! (Or at least didn’t know what they were talking about!) I bet these would also be wonderful dipped in my morning cioccolata calda!

    • Oh yes, they would be able to happily swim in a cioccolata calda. Indeed Anise and Fennel are two different plants but I have heard people mixing up the names. It must be because they are imported while here they are common and everybody knows which one is which.

      • For those of you who do not have easy access to anise seeds, you can usually find them in Indian Import Shops here in the US. And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them on Amazon too! They are beautiful! They look like little brown Stars! They’re usually pretty inexpensive as well. I use them to make black sambuca and cookies! Letizia Merry Christmas to you and your family Facebook

        • thank you for the suggestion Nikki, I should have thought of it as several people have complained of not finding aniseed which are essential for so many Umbrian sweets. Merry Christmas!

  3. Do you sell any of your precious oil via mail? We think of our day spent with you often – every time I use my wonderful apron certainly, but many other times as well. Would live to be able your very own oil in this recipe.

    • Hi Cinde lovely to hear from you! The harvest is small this year but I might be able to ship some, there’s already a list of interested people. Please email me for details if you wish madonnado[at]gmail.com Thank you!

  4. My grandmother made cookie very much like these, only with anisetta rather than fennel and anise seeds as flavoring. There were delicious and I’m sure these are, too!

    • Hi Frank, I think this recipe is very very old. I have been searching for a good reliable recipe for years as nonnas never have exact quantities. I am so glad I found this one which always works!

  5. I have to echo Frank – my grandmother also made cookies like this, and we devoured them. What a pleasure to see them showcased here.

    • H Adri, thanks for visiting. The women in my family were not into sweets so I am collecting old recipes with pleasures, unfortunately I have a very sweet tooth 🙂

  6. You are a gift. I know every recipe from your site with work and that you have tried it until tested for all. Have never had these little cookies, but they do look lovely. Somehow, I think they would taste much better sitting on your deck dipping them in a glass of wine overlooking that lovely view of yours.

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