Ah, the holidays. Time for sugar cookies, gingerbread, and...Cartellate? If you're in Italy, that last cookie, also known as Honey Pinwheels, may be the only one you recognize in that list. Like most holidays in Italy, there are certain desserts made at Christmas. Cartellate is just one of them. Over the next few weeks I'll be bringing you 12 days of Italian Christmas Cookies...or as many as I can whip out before Christmas!
This first Italian Christmas cookie, Cartellate, or Honey Pinwheels, are a typical treat from Puglia (heel of the boot). The cookie itself is not very sweet at all; instead, they give off just a hint of cinnamon with the honey taking center stage. For mine, I used my mom's homemade peach honey, and it was absolutely wonderful. That extra flavor from the peaches were a great addition even if peach isn't a typical Christmas flavor.
When forming the pinwheels themselves, have a little fun! You can do straightforward spirals, crimp the edges, bend the top edges out to look like a flower, anything! Enjoy yourself!
Cartellate (Honey Pinwheels)
Adapted from Mangia Bene Pasta
Makes 2-3 dozen (depending on pinwheel size and thinness of dough)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or Amaretto liquor)
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil (for frying)
1/2 cup honey
- In a bowl, combine the flour, olive oil, salt, cinnamon, and sugar. Begin to add water slowly, a little at a time. Combine thoroughly between each pour. You may need a little more or less water, so be sure to add it in small amounts. You need to add only enough so that the dough sticks together. Form the dough into a ball. Cover in plastic wrap and let sit for one hour.
- Cut the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece of dough out very thinly to about 1/16 of an inch. If you have one, a pasta roller may be the easiest way to do this.
- Cut the dough into strips about 10 inches by 1 1/2 inches. If you have a fluted pastry cutter, use this. Fold the strips in half, but do not press shut. With the open edges facing up, roll the strips into loose spirals. Press the edges to seal. (You can see the ones that I didn't seal well enough, but remember - have fun with this part!)
- Let the spirals sit for about an hour so they just begin to dry.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Once hot, fry the spirals a few at a time. When golden brown, remove from oil and place on a paper towel to drain.
- Heat the honey in a pot over medium low heat. You want the honey to turn to liquid, but not boil. Once it is a thin liquid, drizzle over the pinwheels.
Ryan's rating of Cartellate - 4
1 - Awful. If you make this again I'll shove a fork in my eye.
2 - Meh. It's not my favorite, but I won't threaten self-harm if it shows up again.
3 - Good. I wouldn't feel forced to order a pizza behind your back.
4 - Great! I will fight you for the leftovers.
5 - Love it! Make it again tomorrow. Or immediately and I will bathe in it.