I would love for you to go to the Smithsonian Magazine blog called Inviting Writing to read the story I wrote for them about schart'llat. But here it is in a nutshell, if you insist. The invite to write was a call for stories about Christmas cookies that mean a lot to your family. We have many family recipes, and schart'llat is so unusual in many ways. First of all the spelling is likely found only in Faeto, Italy. The pronunciation and description of the pastry is similar to other southern Italian regions where they call it scallidde. But I don't have anywhere to reference this recipe, other than my dad, Pasquale. He remembers them from his childhood, and I remember them from mine. With the advent of the internet I was sure one day to find them. But it wasn't until I was back in Faeto and asked my new friend Peppino and he know what they were and provided the spelling, but no secret family recipe. Here is the way I made them, and there is room for changes for sure. If I am ever lucky enough to go to pastry school I would know what to do, but for now, they get very puffy. I suspect it is the large quantity of baking powder.
|schart'llat a.k.a. Pasquale's Italian Wonders|
Pasquale's Italian Wonders
7 eggs, beat well
add 2T sugar while beating
add 1 teaspoon salt, 2 heaping teaspoons baking powder and
4 1/2 cups flour
Knead in 7 Tablespoons melted Crisco until dough is smooth.
Rest the dough covered for 5 minutes, and cut in half. Roll out as thin as possible and cut into long strips with a fluted pastry wheel. The strips should be no wider than 1/2". Roll it into a spiral, pinching as you go, because when it hits the hot oil it will puff and unwind.
Fry in hot oil (about 338 degrees) until browned and flip them over to cook evenly.
Drain on paper and you can store them covered. When ready to serve make topping.
1 cup honey
1/2 sugar (I don't usually add this)
1 T water
1T lemon juice
Stir on stove until thick and slightly amber colored. Drizzle over schart'llat and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Traditionally they are stacked in a pyramid shape before the topping. I like them in a smaller group on a plate.
These take me back to another time, another house and my dad standing over the hot oil trying to make them look like his mom's. And here I am, all these years later, a different house, trying to make them look like his. Full circle. Merry Christmas. Pull out an old family recipe and get in there and bake!