It is not Christmas without wine cookies! Some people know them as Turdilli or maybe struffoli (but real struffoli is very different than turdilli). There are lots of recipes on the internet, and all of them seem to call for marsala wine. In our community, wine cookies were traditionally made with a sweet red wine. This is Mom’s recipe, and I present it here below.
2 cups of sweet red wine (sangria, paisano, etc.)
1 cup of oil
1 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of baking powder
2 large eggs (beaten well)
7-8 cups of flour
oil for frying (at 375 degrees)
Combine the wet ingredients (beaten eggs, oil, wine, and sugar). Slowly add the 7 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. The trick here is the dough consistency. It needs to be soft and a just a little tacky (but not actually sticky) to the touch. I wish I could say exactly how much flour to use, but humidity, the flour, and the size of the eggs are going to determine if you need 7 or 8 cups of flour to get the dough the correct consistency. Add it a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing well in between, until you get the right consistency.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 20 minutes to relax. Now would be a good time to heat up the oil if you have not already.
Take about a baseball sized piece of dough and roll it out about 3/4-inch thick. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces (Mom uses two fingers as her guide, my hands are bigger, I need to measure).
Roll the pieces across a cheese grater to give them some texture to help hold the honey.
Place several of them in the hot oil and fry for five to six minutes. Do not overcrowd the batch. Do not place them on top of each other. They will stick and you will have a mess. The secret is small batches.
Place them on a cooling rack to drain. They do not soak up much oil so they are not greasy at all.
Once cooled, it is time to honey. That will be covered on another page.