Ciao a Tutti,
It's Christmas week, and I don't know about you, but I have visions of a whole lot more than sugarplums dancing in my head! The holidays have always been my favorite time of year ever since I was a kid. I'm always reminded of the sweetest smells hanging in the air and the kitchen so full of aunts, uncles and cousins that it could burst at any moment. Of all the seemingly endless creations, it was the fried crowns of dough dipped in vincotto or honey called "Cartelatte" that I'd always steal off the counter while everyone cooked. This week my very own Nonna Romana will be teaching us how to make these delicious holiday treats, but I doubt that will stop me from stealing them come Christmas Eve.
Cartelatte are a staple of any Mola di Bari Christmas celebration. For my family, they go back to my great grandmother who used to sell them out of a "Bottega" she owned in Mola. Everything from start to finish is uniquely Molese. Those of you who aren't familiar, "vincotto" (cooked wine) can also be made from a boiled fig reduction that is rigorously filtered through a white pillowcase in the summer and stored until Christmas. There are several places to find it online, but the easiest way to make it at home is to take a gallon of prune juice, add a cup of sugar, and let it simmer until it's reduced to a syrup. Of course, if the vincotto is too strong a flavor, there is the ever popular plain honey dip that kids seem to love. Either one is perfectly topped off with cinnamon and/or powdered sugar. The best part of any recipe is the eating of the completed product, and I guarantee that any table with Cartellate on top will be empty in record time.
I'd like to thank my Nonna Romana for sharing this recipe (and finally letting me make Cartelatte on my own!) She'll be back next week with a Mola di Bari New Year's Eve special - Frittelle. From all of us at Cooking with Nonna, have a Happy and Healthy Holiday!