Dry Fruit Strudel Made in Assisi
Rocciata di Assisi

serves: makes 2 dozen cookies

You roll up this rocciata, a thin pastry with a fruit and nut filling, just as you do a strudel-but you don't bake it like a strudel. Instead, you slice the roll into thin rounds, lay them flat, and bake them into two dozen rich and beautiful spiral cookies. In this version, I macerate dried fruit overnight in vin santo, one of my favorite sweet wines. There's always a bit of fruity wine left over, and I cook it into a delicious syrup to drizzle over the cookies. Delicious when dunked in a good espresso, and even better when dunked in grappa, these cookies are nice to have around, as well as to give as gifts at the holidays. And I make them after the holidays, too, since they're such a brilliant way to use up all the dried fruit and nuts I have left over from the festivities.

ingredients
8 ounces assorted dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots, chopped in 1/4-inch pieces
1 apple, peeled. cored and chopped in 1/4-inch pieces
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup Vin Santo
¾ cup mixed nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1½ cups all-purpose flour
pinch kosher salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg

directions


A day before baking the cookies, prepare the fruit. Mix the chopped dried fruit and chopped apple in a bowl, toss with 1/2 cup of the sugar, pour in the vin santo, and stir. Cover with plastic wrap, and macerate overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, strain the fruit, catching and reserving the juices in a small saucepan. Return the fruit to the bowl, and toss with the chopped nuts.

To make the dough, stir together the flour, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil, tossing the dry mix with a fork to form coarse crumbs. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water, and pour over the crumbs, tossing and mixing them into a slightly sticky dough. Wrap the dough in plastic, press it into a small flat block, and let it rest briefly.

Arrange two racks in the oven, and heat it to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the dough, place it between two other pieces of parchment paper, and roll it into a thin rectangular sheet, 12 by 15 inches. Remove the top parchment, and spread the fruit-nut filling on the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin uncovered on all sides.

Gently pat the filling so it adheres to the dough. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll, starting at one of the longer sides, into a cylinder or log about 15 inches long. You can lift the bottom parchment to support the dough sheet as you fold it over into a spiral, enclosing the filling. When the log is finished, wrap it fully in the parchment paper (so it doesn't stick to the table), and roll it back and forth a few times to make it more compact (and easier to cut).

Unwrap the log, and trim off the ends with the serrated knife. Next, slice the log crosswise every 1/2 inch or so, into disk-shaped spiral cookies. (If these begin to crumble as you cut, re-form the log into a compact shape, and start cutting again). Lay the cookies flat and spaced apart on the lined baking sheets. Place the sheets on the two oven racks, and bake for about 15 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake another 15 minutes or so, until the dough is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Meanwhile, heat the reserved fruit juices to the boil in a small saucepan, and cook until syrupy and reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove the baking sheets from the oven onto wire racks, and while the cookies are still hot, drizzle the fruit syrup over them. Let the cookies cool completely. They will keep for a week or two if well wrapped or in a cookie tin.