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Nut-Filled Cookie Sticks

in Diana's Recipe Book

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Servings: Makes 48 (2-inch long) cookies
Sfratti (the Italian name for these nut-filled cookie sticks) means "evicted." The name comes from Italian landlords of long ago who used sticks to chase away poor tenants who had not paid their rent. Some of them were probably poor Jews. The cookies are stick-like, and Jewish cooks have turned their origins around, making them instead sweet symbols of eviction. These honey-and-nut-filled cookies are served at Rosh Hashanah. As described, in Aldo Santini's La cucina maremmana, they are made with pastry moistened with sweet wine instead of water. Butter or margarine is used, depending upon whether the rest of the meal is dairy or not.

For Pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup chilled margarine or unsalted butter
2/3 cup sweet wine

For Filling:
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

All-purpose flour or fine bread crumbs for dusting
1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water, for egg wash

Chill a pastry board.

To Make Dough:
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the margarine or butter with a pastry blender until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add the wine and stir and toss with a fork until the mixture just holds together. Remove the dough and gather into a ball. (The dough can also be made in a food processor, pulsing it to cut in the butter and processing to bring the dough together.) Divide the dough in half and flatten each half into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

To Make Filling:
Pour the honey into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, add the cinnamon and cloves, and boil until it forms a ribbon when a spoon is lifted, about 10 minutes. Add the nuts, citrus zests, and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool until you can touch the mixture without burning yourself.

Dust the chilled board with flour or bread crumbs. Pour the filling onto the board and using your hands, roll it into 6 long, thin ropes, each 12 to 14 inches long. Act quickly as the mixture sets up fast!

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C. Butter 1 or 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured board, divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a 4-inch-wide strip of nut paste on the center of each piece of dough, and roll up the dough, fully enclosing the nut paste. Cut into finger-length cookies. Place on the prepared baking sheet(s). Brush the sticks with the egg wash glaze. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. These keep well but you won't have them long!

Makes 48 (2-inch long) cookies.

Source: Adapted from Cucina Ebraica
Date: September 14, 2006

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