''Roses” with vincotto and “nude” cassata
Impress your friends during this season’s festivities with a much more exciting version of the worn-out Christmas pudding. We know they’ll thank you!
Cartellate are a typical Pugliese Christmas sweet. ‘Carta’, or paper, refers to the thin-rolled dough. These beautiful little pastries are also known as roses because of their appearance, incorporating two native ingredients to the region: dried figs and toasted almonds. As in Sicily, ricotta is commonly used in Puglia to prepare desserts; but this is the Pugliese version of the cassata Siciliana. The cassata is ‘nude’ because those in Puglia don’t cover it with fondant as the Sicilians do.
Serves 8. Prep time 45 mins, cook 20 mins (plus resting)
500 gm “00” flour
150 ml extra-virgin olive oil
150 ml moscato, or to taste
100 ml fig vincotto (see note), to serve Cassata nuda
500 gm ricotta
180 gm dried figs, finely chopped
1½ tbsp finely chopped candied orange peel
80 gm finely chopped chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
2 tbsp pouring cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
50 gm flaked almonds, toasted
1. Place flour into a bowl. Heat oil and moscato in separate saucepans to 80C. Pour warmed oil into the flour and stir to just combine, then add moscato and stir with a wooden spoon until a shiny dough forms (add extra moscato if dough feels too dry). Shape dough into a cylinder and set aside on a tray to rest (45 minutes).
2. Preheat oven to 160C. Slice dough widthways into 24 pieces and, working with one piece at a time, feed through the rollers of a pasta machine, rolling and folding and reducing settings notch by notch until dough is 3mm thick. Cut the pasta sheet lengthways with a fluted pastry wheel into 3cm-wide ribbons. Pinch each ribbon every 3cm to form small pockets, then, keeping ribbon flat on the work surface, roll into a spiral. The finished roll will resemble a rose. Place spirals on oven trays and bake until golden and crisp (10 minutes).
3. Meanwhile, for cassata nuda, combine ingredients (except almonds) in a bowl and stir until well combined. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 2cm-star nozzle and pipe ricotta mixture into 6 to 8 small mounds on serving plates. Decorate each ricotta mound with flaked almonds. Refrigerate until required.
4. Meanwhile, heat vincotto in a small saucepan over low-medium heat until warmed through (3-4 minutes). Pour over the cartellate and serve with cassata nuda.
Note: Fig vincotto is available from Italian grocers. If unavailable, substitute with regular vincotto or sweet aged balsamic vinegar.