Traditionally, these Christmas cookies are made using pureed, freshly cooked chestnuts, although in some parts of Southern Italy, mashed chickpeas or ground almonds are used. Often they're deep-fried, and dipped in honey or rolled in cinnamon-flavoured sugar once cooked. Baking them is altogether an easier way to go. You can make the dough and filling ahead of time and once baked, these can also be frozen.
- 485 g (3¼ cups) plain flour
- 115 g (½ cup) caster sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 125 g unsalted butter, chopped
- 2 large eggs, beaten well
- 100 ml olive oil
- 2½ tbsp iced water, approximately
- 1 x 400 g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 35 g (¼ cup) honey
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 50 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 35 g (¼ cup) currants
- 2 tbsp chopped mixed peel
- 40 g (⅓ cup) chopped toasted almonds
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 30 minutes
To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter then, using your fingertips, rub it in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. In another bowl, combine the eggs, olive oil and water and whisk to combine well. Add to the flour mixture, using a fork to combine well, adding a little more water to form a firm dough, if necessary. Use your hands to briefly knead the dough until smooth then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to rest.
Meanwhile, to make the filling, combine the chickpeas, honey, sugar, cocoa and cinnamon in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl then stir in the remaining ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Divide the dough into 4 even-sized pieces and form each into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball until 3 mm thick. Using a 6 cm-round pastry cutter, cut rounds out of the dough. Reserve any scraps. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough then press all the reserved scraps together, roll them out until 3 mm thick and cut out rounds.
Working with one round at a time, place a teaspoon of filling on one side of a round, leaving a border. Lightly dampen the border with a little water, using your finger, then fold the circle over to form a semicircle. Use a fork to press the edges together to seal. Place on the lined baking trays then bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool then dust heavily with icing sugar.
Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel.
This recipe is part of our 10 ways with canned chickpeascolumn.
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