Cartellate Recipe by Michelangelo 'Lina' Pompilio

Gooey and chewy with crunchy touches, these cookies are a must-have for Christmas in Puglia and beyond. Garibaldian Michelangela “Lina” Pompilio, from Adelfia Canneto in the province of Bari, fondly remembers her mother and grandmother in the kitchen preparing them each year, and for decades she too has continued the tradition.

Both online and among others, there is a lot of discussion about using wine, grape syrup, or honey to soak these cookies. Italian vincotto is often used and can be purchased online and in many delis and Italian specialty stores in Los Angeles. As a substitute, grape syrup or grape molasses can be easily found at smaller supermarket chains, Jon's and Super King, but these cookies can also be made with a date syrup substitute. Pompilio relies on Indo-European Foods Inc.'s brand of grape molasses, which can also be ordered online, and insists on using Pillsbury flour over all other brands.

The dough needs to rest after mixing before shaping, and these cookies are much easier to shape than it seems when you first read the instructions. Once formed, the shaped cartelato requires a minimum of six hours, but preferably overnight, to dry before frying.

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