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Caggionetti

In my mother's family, these were called caggiunitts, and they were a special Christmas treat.  I found several descriptions of these while doing a general search on "Italian cookies."  As it turns out, they are a traditional food of the Abruzzo region, which is where my mother's father was born and lived as a child.  For years, I've wanted to make these.  I'd been told by my Aunt Edith that the dough was made with olive oil and wine, and the primary ingredients for the filling were ceci beans, chocolate, candied fruit, nuts, sugar, and cinnamon.  Based on my memory of the taste, I was pretty sure the filling also included orange peel and some kind of baking spice (possibly cloves) in addition to cinnamon.

Further research revealed that there are many variations on the filling, though the base seems to nearly always be ceci beans, chestnuts, or -- most traditionally -- a combination of the two.  These are soft-cooked and then mashed together with the other ingredients. Most recipes also include cocoa powder, grated chocolate, or melted chocolate.  Sweetness is provided by sugar, honey, or grape must.  Other common ingredients are chopped nuts, candied citron, orange zest, and cinnamon.

After looking at various recipes and doing some experimentation, I've come up with my own version of caggionetti:

PASTRY INGREDIENTS

4 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. olive oil
2/3 c. white wine
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
cold water as needed

FILLING INGREDIENTS
5 oz. cooked ceci beans
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant espresso coffee powder
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, grated or melted
2-3 oz. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. candied citron
1/2 - 1 c. chopped walnuts (2-3 oz.)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. orange oil
zest from one orange


Purée the ceci beans in a food processor, then add the other filling ingredients, processing as needed to evenly distribute.  Set the filling aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the oil and wine, then knead, adding the cold water as needed to get a dough that holds together.  Knead he dough for several more minutes to make sure the ingredients are well blended. On a lightly floured cutting board, roll out the dough as thin as you can get it.  Cut out circles, place about 1/2 t. of filling on each circle, then fold over and seal the edges as you would a ravioli.  Fry the cookies in hot Canola oil, turning once, until both sides are lightly browned.  Remove to a plate or tray lined with paper towels for draining.  Sprinkle with sugar while still hot.
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