Aunt Grace’s Pasticelli Cookies
Raymond De Felitta has shared his aunt’s Pasticelli Cookies recipe with us. His wife, Sherry, notes, “These marvelous cookies take some time to prepare, but they are worth it! This recipe is classic Italian – even the cookie sheets are greased with olive oil!”
For the filling:
- 3 large bars Hershey’s milk chocolate (5 ounces each) or 15 ounces of better chocolate if you’re feeling fancy
- 2 pounds unroasted chestnuts
- 3 tangerines, juiced and rind peeled, cleaned (remove all pith) and minced
- 8 ounces Anisette
- 10 chocolate wafers, made into fine crumbs
For the shells:
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 cups white flour
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup Crisco
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 glass ice water
- A few tablespoons of olive oil, for greasing cookie sheets and brushing cookies
First, make the filling. Peel the hard outer shells from the chestnuts and place the chestnuts in a large pot. Cover them with water and boil until soft. Drain and cool the chestnuts. Peel off the brown skin, then mash with a potato masher. Chop the chocolate bars roughly and place in food processor; process ’til grated. Add the mashed chestnuts, tangerine juice, tangerine rind and Anisette. Mix thoroughly. If mixture is not thick enough to hold its shape, add enough chocolate wafer crumbs to thicken. You may prefer to mix in a bowl.
Next, make the shells. Mix the salt and sugar with the flour. Cut in the butter and Crisco. Beat the eggs and add them to the flour/butter mixture. Mix lightly with your hands, just until the eggs are distributed throughout. Add ice water a tablespoon at a time, as if for pie crust, mixing lightly until dough is formed. Gather the dough into a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so. Roll out about 1/8-inch thick and cut into 2-inch rounds with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Stack rounds; cover with a dishtowel and set aside until ready to assemble cookies.
When you are ready, assemble the cookies. Oil two cookie sheets using the olive oil. Set a dish with a few tablespoons of olive oil at your work space.
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
Place one cookie shell round on a small dish in front of you; lightly brush the round with olive oil and place a teaspoon of filling made into a ball on it. Cover with a second round, pressing the edges firmly together. Brush the top with oil. Make 1/4-inch incisions about 1/4-inch apart all around edge of cookie, then fold up every other “tab” to create a serrated look. Repeat until all shells are used; set the cookies on the oiled baking sheets. Extra filling can be frozen for future use.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until slightly brown on top.