Saturday, January 10, 2015

Calabrese Turdilli - Honey Soaked Wine Balls

Turdilli - Wine Balls Soaked in Honey












Have you ever heard of Turdilli? 

I bet you haven’t. 

Turdilli are little cookies or pastries served during the holidays in Calabrese families.  My paternal grandparents trace their roots to Calabria Italy so I’m sure my grandmother learned this recipe there by her mother’s side. 

Turdilli look like gnocchi, at least the way my grandmother shaped them, but are more closely related to pie crust or cannoli shells.  Like fingerprints, everyone’s turdilli turn out slightly different.  I roll mine on a gnocchi board but a fork works just as well.  I've also seen them rolled on the back of a cheese grater or basket but I like to make them in the traditional way that my family is used to seeing them.  

The recipe itself is very simple but it does take a bit of practice to get the dough from the bowl to the finished product without ending up with either tough turdilli or a bowl of crumbs.  It’s also hard to give exact measurements in the recipe since it's more about the feel of the dough than it is about what the measuring cup or kitchen scale might say. 

My grandmother passed the recipe down to my mother and she learned by her side shortly after my parents were married.  In turn my mother taught me how to make them and now I’m teaching my daughter.  If you happen to check out the video tutorial below, you’ll see that she’s picking up the art quite nicely. 

I know this recipe won’t quite fit in with your New Year’s resolutions but it's a great recipe to have tucked away for when the holidays roll around again.  

Calabrese Turdilli – Honey Soaked Wine Balls
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 1 cup of wine (I used a cabernet sauvignon)
  • 1 egg
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • gluten free flour (enough to form a soft dough … I used 1lb 5oz of King Arthur’s gf blend)
  • 10-12 oz of honey

Video Tutorial: 




Instructions
  1. Whisk together the first four ingredients until well combined.
  2. Add the flour starting with 1 lb then adding an ounce at a time until you have a dough consistency that is firm enough to roll into small balls but try not to add too much or the turdilli will be tough.
  3. Roll the dough into balls about ¾ of an inch in diameter then I press them onto a gnocchi board or a fork and gently roll them off and place them onto a lightly floured surface.
  4. Once they're all done, drop them into hot oil one at a time frying in batches of about a dozen at a time to keep things manageable.  
  5. Fry each batch for 2-3 minutes or until they’re lightly golden then use a slotted spoon or spider to remove them and drain on paper towels for a minute or so while you drop in the next batch.
  6. As the second batch fries, add the first batch to a large cool skillet and start to drizzle over some of the honey. 
  7. Continue this procedure until they’re all done then place the skillet full of honey coated turdilli over a medium low heat and stir very gently until the honey thins just slightly and all the turdilli are well coated. 
  8. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container with a well-fitting lid so you can turn the whole container over every couple of hours to distribute the honey without having to stir them and risk breaking them apart.  But don’t shake the container.  Turn the container over once and leave it upside down, then turn it back a few hours later to continuously distribute the honey.

Notes:  I’m pretty sure that they can last up to a week stored in an airtight container but I’m not sure since they've never lasted that long in my house. 

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