These old-fashioned jam-filled pockets that are a specialty of Italy’s Abruzzo region. This recipe was given to me by Fabrizio Lucci, who hosts tours of the beautiful area around the coastal city of Vasto. It’s a specialty of his mother, Anna Maria, and I have her to thank for showing me how to mix and roll out the delicate dough and shape the cookies into fat rings. The traditional filling to use for these cookies is a rustic grape jam known as 'scrucchjata,' made from Montepulciano grapes. It's not easy to find outside of Abruzzo, so just substitute a good quality artisan grape or blackberry jam ~ or your own homemade.
- 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
- 1 cup good-quality thick grape jam or blackberry jam
- 1/2 ounce bittersweet chocolate, grated
- 1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups ‘00’ flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 11- by 17-inch rimmed baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
Make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the almonds, jam, grated chocolate, cocoa powder and espresso powder. Fold everything together gently but thoroughly. Set aside.
Make the dough: In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil and wine. Sprinkle in the flour a little at a time, stirring constantly with a fork to incorporate the ingredients. Continue to add flour and stir until you have a dough that is shiny, soft and sticky, and just firm enough to handle. Turn the dough out onto a lightly dusted work surface and knead until smooth and shiny, about 3 minutes.
Fill and shape the cookies: Pinch off a small piece of dough—about the size of a walnut—and pat it into a small disk. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the disk into an oval about 5 in/13 cm long and 3 in/9 cm wide. The dough will be sticky, but avoid adding too much additional flour, as it will toughen the dough. The best technique is to be confident and use a light touch so as not to tear the dough (if you tear the dough, press it back together; you don’t want the filling to leak out).
Spread a thin layer of filling—less than a teaspoon—along the center of the piece of dough, leaving a border all around. Fold the long top edge over the filling to meet the bottom edge, and press gently but firmly to seal and to remove any air bubbles. With a fluted pastry wheel, trim excess dough around the perimeter, leaving a thin border. Bring the two ends of the dough together to form a ring. Press the ends to seal. Set the cookie on a prepared baking sheet. Continue to fill and shape the cookies and arrange them on the baking sheets, 15 per sheet. You should end up with 30 cookies. (You may not use all the filling; store any that is leftover in the refrigerator.)
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are pale golden and just set. Transfer the baking sheets to racks to cool for 5 minutes. Use an angled metal spatula to gently transfer the cookies from the baking sheets to the cooling racks. To serve arrange the cookies on a decorative platter and sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar. Serve the cookies slightly warm or at room temperature.