Dolci di Castagna (aka Chestnut Creams)
- 1 pound dried chestnuts
- 6 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons dark cocoa
- 2 tablespoons almond flavored liqueur
- 1 tablespoons dark rum
- 1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon allspice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 medium sized oranges, zested
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lard or shortening
- 6 large eggs
- 1/2 pound honey
- Olive oil, for deep frying
- Confectioners' sugar
- Ground Cinnamon
To make the filling: Soak the chestnuts overnight. The next morning, drain, and remove as much of the black skin as possible. In a medium saucepan, in water to cover, boil the chestnuts until soft, drain, and pat dry.
In a food processor grind the chestnuts to a fine meal-like texture.
In a large bowl, blend the chestnuts with the honey, cocoa, liqueur, rum, almonds, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla extract, sugar, and orange zest with wooden spoon until mixture resembles ravioli filling. Taste and season to your liking. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 weeks.
To make the dough: In food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and lard until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs one at a time, pulsing after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead until blended and smooth.
Divide the dough into pieces and roll it out until it is very thin, just like a pasta dough for ravioli. (A pasta machine works great for this.) Use a 3 inch fluted cutter to cut circles from the dough. Fill the center of each circle with a heaping demitasse spoon of the filling. Use a small pastry brush to brush water around edges, then fold the dough over the filling, and press to seal. (If desired, press the edges with a fork for a better seal). Repeat with all the dough and filling.
In heavy-bottomed pot, heat a couple of inches of oil until it registers 350 degrees F on a deep-frying thermometer. Fry the pastries, in batches, until a light golden color. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
In a large saucepan, heat 1/2 pound honey and cooks until melted and thin. Add the cookies to honey, toss, and turn out onto a rack over a sheet pan. Sprinkle the tops of the warm pastries with confectioners' sugar and cinnamon.
Store in an airtight container in a cool place up to 2 weeks.
Recipe courtesy Josephine Rizzolo