Cartellate are a typical Christmas and party dessert of Apulian cuisine. They are prepared with a very simple base of flour, sugar, extra-virgin olive oil, and white wine, then fried and immersed in a special syrup such as vincotto, which can be made out of figs or grapes depending on the area.
The history of cartellate and the origin of their name
In the Christian tradition, cartellate represent the halo or the bands that wrapped the child Jesus in the manger, but also the crown of thorns at the time of the Crucifixion. Similar sweets are also produced in Calabria, where they are called nèvole or crispelle, and in Basilicata, where they are called roses or crispedde.
A very similar dessert called lanxsatura was first depicted in a sixth-century BC rock painting near Bari. The filled dish was offered to the gods according to the cult of Ceres, probably of Greek origin, and associated with offerings made to Demeter, goddess of the earth, during the Eleusinian mysteries.
At the dawn of Christianity, these ritual pancakes were transformed into gifts to the Madonna, cooked to invoke her intervention for the success of the crops.
The preparation of this dessert is not very simple, but we guarantee that the final result will be sensational. Here is our recipe for the delicious cartellate al vincotto.
Cartellate al vincotto
A deep-fried italian dessert with a special syrup from apulia. It’s a Christmas dessert that every family views as a must-have dessert for special occasions.
100millilitersdry white wineaniseed liqueur, or orange liqueur
extra-virgin olive oil for frying
vincotto of figsor honey
In a saucepan, heat the oil and orange peel over low heat. Do not let it fry. Remove the orange peels after a few minutes.
Place the flour on a flat surface, pile the flour into a mound. Make a well in the center of the mound and slowly add the lukewarm oil. Mix.
Form a nice uniform and homogeneous ball by carefully working the flour and oil together.
Separately, dissolve the baking powder in the wine in a bowl. Slowly incorporate the wine into the flour, then add the sugar and finally the salt. Work everything well in order to obtain a smooth, homogeneous dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
After resting, divide the dough in half and begin flattening the dough into thin layers.
Roll out the dough until it is very thin with the help of a pasta machine, starting with the thickest setting. Roll out the dough several times. Change the thickness by gradually bringing the wheel of the machine to the penultimate notch.
Use a serrated wheel to cut strips of about 25 cm by 4 cm. Then fold each strip lengthwise and form small pockets by pinching the dough together at regular intervals.
Roll each strip into a rosette, pinching the edges to help it hold together.
Let the cartellate rest on parchment paper overnight, or at least 5 hours.
Heat olive oil in a deep pan until it sizzles.
Place the cartellate in the pan and fry them until slightly golden.
While you are frying, heat some honey or your vincotto in a double boiler.
When you have fried the cartellate, pat them on paper towels to blot excess oil.
Dip the cartellate in the hot honey or vincotto on both sides, so as to cover the cartellate well.