Adapted from La Cucina (Rizzoli Publications, Inc. 2009)
The Vulture region of Basilicata is most well known for its bold, earthy red wines made from Aglianico. Chestnuts, specifically of the Marroncino variety, are another specialty that thrive in the volcanic soils of this area. It garners such praise for its size that the town of Melfi throws a festival in its honor, called Sagra della Varola.
During the second to last week of October, hordes of hungry locals and tourists feast on recently harvested roasted chestnuts. Sweet treats, like these calzoncelli cookies, abound.
- Olive oil
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 6 ounces lard or shortening
- 1⅔ cups fine-chopped chestnuts
- 1⅔ cups chopped bittersweet chocolate
Heat oven to 375˚F. Grease baking pan with olive oil. Combine flour, sugar, eggs and lard in a bowl and mix with hands until incorporated. Move to flat surface and knead until dough is smooth and homogenous. Let rest for about 20 minutes then roll out a sheet about ⅛ inch thick. Using a thin-rimmed glass or circular cookie cutter, cut into disks. Mix the chestnuts and chocolate in a small bowl and place small mound in center of each disk. Fold disk over to form half-moons, crimping the edges. Place on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
While a simplistic pairing of roasted chestnuts and Aglianico di Vulture is a match made in heaven, the sweetness in this cookie calls for an equally luscious wine. There are sweet reds produced in Basilicata called Aglianico dolce, however the bottlings rarely leave the region. Looking a little farther north into the bordering region of Puglia, try Polvanera’s 21 Primitivo. This naturally sweet red is deep and concentrated in rich berry tones that will sing alongside the nutty, chocolaty filling of the cookie.