Recipe of the Month

(Dried Fruit- and Nut-Filled Cookies)

These sweet bites were most likely named after the Slovenian dumplings called “štruklji.” Their origin dates back to the 15th century, when Martino da Como, chef for the patriarch of Aquileia, documented a recipe for fritters filled with dried fruit and nuts. Historians believe these were a precursor to modern strucchi as well as gubana. While strucchi are sometimes baked, this fried version is more traditional.

6 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup grappa or rum
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
3/4 cup finely crushed biscotti or amaretti cookies
1/2 cup diced candied orange peel
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 egg
• • •
Vegetable oil

For the Filling:
Place the raisins in a large bowl; add the grappa and let soak for 30 minutes.

Finely grind the walnuts and almonds in a food processor; add to the bowl of raisins. Stir in the crushed biscotti, candied orange peel, pine nuts, melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and egg.

For the Dough:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, lemon peel, and salt. Blend in the butter, a little at a time, until crumbly. Add the eggs and vanilla extract; mix until the dough forms a solid mass. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

To Prepare:
Working in batches, roll the dough on a sheet of waxed paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into 1- by 1-1/2-inch rectangles. Place 1/2 teaspoon filling in the center of one rectangle; cover with another rectangle, sealing the edges tightly. (Keep the unused dough refrigerated until ready to use.)

Pour 1-1/2 inches of vegetable oil into a large pot. Heat the oil to 365°F. Working in batches, carefully place the strucchi in the hot oil; fry until golden brown, about 1–2 minutes. Remove from oil; drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar.

Makes about 10 to 11 dozen.