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Christmas cakes - Tortellini fritti e al forno (Fried and baked small pies)

Christmas sweets filled with either crème patissière, jam or Christmas filling.

Tortellini fritti e al forno

As soon as the Christmas season approaches, tortellini (sweet small pies) appear on the scene. They may be fried (fritti) or baked (al forno), and have a delicious filling made of jam, chestnuts, walnuts, pine kernels, powdered coffee, and rum or sassolino liqueur. This is another sweet typical of the Reggio tradition with origins dating as far back as the Renaissance and is characterized by a blend of sweet and sour flavours.   
Tortellini di Natale al forno o fritti. Turtlein d’Nadel al foren o frett (baked or fried Christmas pies)


for the pastry:
500 g of flour
150 g of sugar
50 g of butter
1 sachet of baking powder
2 eggs
1 small glass of Sassolino liqueur

for the crème:
6 level spoonfuls of flour
6 heaped spoonfuls of sugar
6 egg yolks
Half a litre of milk
Lemon zest or vanilla


Prepare the pastry by mixing all the ingredients on the pastry board. To make the crème patissière, mix the egg yolks with the sugar in a fireproof casserole dish, add the flour, then very slowly add the milk stirring all the while. Cook over a medium heat stirring all the time until it thickens. Flavour with vanilla or lemon zest according to your taste. At this point you can prepare the tortellini, using the purpose-made cutters, then oven bake on a baking tin previously buttered and sprinkled with bread crumbs or deep fry in boiling hot oil, two or three at a time. Serve with a generous sprinkling of icing sugar.
Tortellini can be filled with custard, jam or Christmas filling. Christmas filling is a mixture of various types of jams, pine kernels, sultanas, cocoa and sweet fruit pickles, but the recipe varies depending on the cook. These days it is available ready-made at groceries and food stores.