Celli Ripieni {Jam-Filled Cookies}

Makes 30 cookies

Celli Ripieni {Jam-Filled Cookies}

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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.

4 Responses to Celli Ripieni {Jam-Filled Cookies}

  1. angela butto February 29, 2016 at 9:48 am #

    These biscuits did not work out like my mums the pastry was wrong and the filling too sweet do you have any other options that are more typical Abruzesi thanks!

    • Domenica Marchetti February 29, 2016 at 11:29 am #

      Hi Angela, I appreciate your feedback. The dough for these cookies is quite fragile and not easy to work with. You could try reducing the amount of sugar in the filling to better suit your tastes. There are a couple of other Abruzzese cookie recipes on the blog. One is my mother’s calcionelli, also a filled ravioli-like cookie, but fried rather than baked (though you could try baking them). Here’s a link: http://www.americanfoodroots.com/recipes/gabriellas-calcionelli/ Good luck!

  2. Lois January 13, 2018 at 12:57 pm #

    I am going to try this recipe but for some reason I think my mom used a sweet biscotti dough. Did you ever hear of that? My mother is no longer with us and I have been trying to find this recipe for awhile now. I only know she called it the bird recipe. She usually made them around Christmas time. I thought she cooked the filling on the stove but I could be wrong.

    • Domenica Marchetti January 13, 2018 at 1:39 pm #

      Hi Lois, I wonder if your mom used a “pasta frolla” dough, which has multiple uses ~ it can be used for cookies, or as the crust for a crostata (jam tart). This particular recipe is from the mother of a friend. It’s quite delicate, and not very easy to work with. As for cooking the filling, the traditional filling is made from cooked wine grapes, cooked down to a jam. Maybe that’s what your mom did. Or maybe she heated the jam and other ingredients to mix them together. There are many variations on this cookie, no doubt your mom’s was different from this but I’ll bet it was delicious.

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