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Easter Torte & Shamells (Ciamelli) Part 1 - Making the Cookies


No holiday would be complete without shoving your cousins out of the way to stuff your face with ciamelli or as my family says / writes, shammells. And every Easter in our baskets we get an Easter Torte which is just a giant shammell shaped into plain rings for the adults, rings with an egg and a cross for the boys, and fishes with an egg and a cross for the girls.

I have a couple different versions of this recipe floating around, since both torte and shamells are basically the same, so I will be combining everything into this one post for ease of use later.

These two desserts follow the same recipe, but are shaped differently. So get ready to have "fun with fractions" - no seriously - this is how my mother explained fractions to my sister and me as kids.

EASTER TORTE & SHAMELLS

3 rings or 48 cookies

COOKIE: 3 cup All Purpose Flour (360 grams)

3/4 cup White Sugar (150 grams)

1 tablespoon Baking Powder (15 grams)

1/4 teaspoon Salt (withhold if using salted butter) (1.5 grams)

6 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled (85 g)

1/2 tablespoon anise (7 ml)

1/2 tablespoon vanilla (7ml)

3 large Eggs*, beaten

Butter/Crisco or Parchment paper for the cookie sheets

Preheat oven to 350F (175C or 160C FAN) and grease or line baking sheets

*Reserve whole egg shells for the torte if giving to children. Use a thin sharp tool, like a poultry needle or lobster pick, to create two holes in the egg at each pole. Then scramble the egg inside the shell and blow out all of the eggs. Wash under hot water and dry completely.

MAKING THE DOUGH: METHOD #1 - Old-school

Sift flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center.

In the center of the well, add the melted butter, anise, vanilla, and beaten eggs.

Slowly and carefully starting from the center stir in all of the flour. When it becomes to difficult to stir, turn out onto a floured board and start to knead the dough until it glistens like satin.

MAKING THE DOUGH: METHOD #2 - Quick

Sift flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a 6-cup or larger food processor.

Turn onto low and pour in the melted butter, anise, vanilla, and beaten eggs.

Keep on low until the dough changes color and starts to pull away from the sides. This maybe takes 45 seconds after all of the wet ingredients are incorporated.

Turn out onto a floured board and start to knead the dough until it glistens like satin.

**Tip: do not wash your hands after kneading the dough and before shaping the torte/shamells. You want a nice layer of buttery dough and flour on your hands to make it easier to work with**

FUN WITH FRACTIONS:

TORTE:

One kneaded ball of dough = 3 torte

SHAMELLS:

One kneaded ball of dough = 48 cookies. To get to 48 cookies that are relatively even:

First, cut the ball into half (24 & 24)

Second, cut each ball in half (12, 12, 12 & 12)

Third, cut each ball in half (6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6 & 6)

Fourth, cut each ball into half (3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 & 3)

Fifth, cut each ball into thirds (1x48)

*If you are measuring weight 1/48 = ~17g

SHAPING THE DOUGH: TORTE

After dividing the dough into thirds, roll out the dough into a long "snake" about 1-inch thick. Fold into thirds and make another snake. Repeat this 3-5 times until the dough glistens and there are no cracks in the dough.

Once you roll out the dough into a snake for the final time, create the desired shapes: plain rings for the adults, rings with an egg and a cross for the boys, and fishes with an egg and a cross for the girls.

And place on a greased cookie sheet or line the sheet with parchment paper.

SHAPING THE DOUGH: SHAMELLS

After dividing the dough into 48 pieces, quickly even out the pieces by "robbing Peter to pay Paul" so that all 48 pieces are roughly the same size.

Take one piece at a time and roll into a ball. Smush it back down and reroll ~3 times until ball is glistening and there are no cracks in the dough.

Pick up and place on a greased cookie sheet or line the sheet with parchment paper.

BAKE at 350F (175 C) Torte ~20-25 minutes until bottom is nicely colored, but tops are still pale

Shamells ~12-20 minutes until bottom is nicely colored, but tops are still pale

**Tip: if you have two trays in the oven at one time, halfway though baking switch the racks and rotate the pans**

For the convection oven bake at 160C Fan

Torte ~25-30 minutes until bottom is nicely colored, but tops are still pale

Shamells ~20-25 minutes until bottom is nicely colored, but tops are still pale

Let cool completely before frosting.

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