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Michelangela ‘Lina’ Pompilio’s Cartellate Recipe

Sticky and chewy with crags of crispiness, these cookies are Christmastime must-haves across Puglia and beyond. Garibaldina member Michelangela “Lina” Pompilio, from Adelfia Canneto in Bari province, fondly remembers her mother and grandmother in the kitchen preparing them each year, and for decades she’s continued the tradition too.

Both online and among nonne, there’s a lot of discussion about using wine, grape syrup or honey for soaking these cookies. Italian vincotto is often used and can be purchased online and in many of L.A.’s Italian delis and specialty grocers. As a substitute, grape syrup or grape molasses can be found readily at smaller grocery chains Jon’s and Super King, but these cookies might also be made with a substitution of date syrup instead. Pompilio trusts the Indo-European Foods Inc. brand of grape molasses — which can also be ordered online — and insists on using Pillsbury flour over all other brands.

The dough needs to rest after mixing it before shaping, and these cookies are a lot easier to mold than it might appear when first reading the instructions. Once formed, the shaped cartellate require a minimum of six hours — but preferably overnight — to dry out before frying.

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