Abbracci Cookies

Last year I took a class called Interracial Literature; we read OthelloAbsalom! Absalom!, lots of other cool and somewhat bizarre stories, analyzed conceptions of racial difference. Every class, my professor would bring us black and white Italian cookies, which we liked to call interracial cookies.

This particular variety is called Abbracci, which is Italian for "hug."

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It's a simple shortbread cookie, a piece of chocolate dough intertwined with a piece of vanilla. Like they're hugging each other!

Shortbread is wonderfully easy to make, and if you're new to baking this is a great recipe to start with.

This cookie recipe also has slightly less sugar than most; you can increase it by another tablespoon or so, but I wouldn't recommend. The cookies I had in Italy were flaky, buttery, and had the perfect amount of sweetness, unlike their American counterparts, which tend to be too sweet. Along those lines, don't leave out the salt. I've found that salt adds a wonder complexity and depth of flavor to baked goods; they don't make things salty, but they help round out the sweetness.

Key techniques to making tender shortbread cookies is 1) not over-mixing the dough (especially when you're mixing in the cocoa and Nutella) and 2) refrigerating the dough before baking them.

There's nothing complicated or fancy about these cookies, aside from the cool shape. They're a wonderfully simple and delicious cookie, buttery and crumbly, perfect with a cup of tea and a good book.


Abbracci Cookies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Nutell


With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light, pale, and fluffy. Whisk in the vanilla extract.

With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the salt. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix until just combined.

Remove about half of the dough from the bowl and set aside. To the remaining dough, add the cocoa powder and Nutella and mix until incorporated.

Divide the chocolate dough into 15 pieces. Do the same for the vanilla dough. With your hands, roll each piece of dough into a 2-inch log.

Join together one vanilla and one chocolate piece of dough with the ends overlapping, to form a circle. Do this for the remaining pieces of dough.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes. They will be barely golden around the edges.

Let cool and serve!