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crustoli2If you have seen my Instagram photos, you know that my famiglia and I have been busy making dolci di Natale.  I decided to compile them together in a blog post. There are many other Italian dolci di Natale, but I have only included the ones we make every at home:


You can’t get more Pugliese than Cartellate (called Carteddate in Bari).  My Mamma and I made them last week. The dough is pinched and rolled into pinwheel or thorny rose shapes, fried, and then vino cotto is poured over them. Their shape is apparently  symbolizes the crown of thorns worn by Jesus. Vino cotto is really mosto cotto, but we call it vino cotto for some reason. The wine must is boiled and boiled down to a thick syrup and bottled.  It is like a yummy wine molasses.  cartellate2

cartellate3Cauzuncill’cauzuncillIt wouldn’t be Natale without Cauzuncill’ (cow·ZOON·cheel)  They already have their own entire blog post.  Read more about them here.

Cauzuncill' (cow-zoon-cheel) with almond and vino cotto filling, drizzled with vino cotto

Cauzuncill’ (cow-zoon-cheel) with almond and vino cotto filling, drizzled with vino cotto


We call these crustoli, but they are also called crostoli, chiacchiere, cenci, bugie and frappe in other parts of Italia.  The sweet dough is cut into strips or bows, fried and then dusted with icing sugar. They are also traditionally made for Carnevale.  The recipe is in this post.crustolipentola


Panettone is traditionally from Milano, while Pandoro, the fruitless, star-shaped version, originated in Verona.  They are eaten throughout Italia and it wouldn’t be Natale without panettone and leftover panettone.  I love panettone french toast with fresh ricotta.  This year, I made my own panettone, and it came out quite decent!  I still have a bit of experimenting to do, but will hopefully be able to post about it for Natale 2017. The recipe is now posted here.

My first panettone fatto in casa

My first panettone fatto in casa


Pettole are fried balls of dough.  They are made with or without raisins and are covered in honey or vino cotto.  Pettole are traditionally eaten on the feast of l’Immacolata, Dec 8th, and on la Vigilia di Natale, Christmas Eve.  I believe these are usually called zeppole in Calabria and in the US.  In Puglia, zeppole are a completely different dolce, eaten on the feast of San Giuseppe.

Pizza con la Ricottapizzaconlaricotta

Pizza con la ricotta is another traditional Pugliese dolce, and we only make it at Natale and Pasqua.  I’m not sure why we only make it twice a year, as it is so delicious!  It is a crostata (tart) made with pasta frolla (short crust pastry) and filled with fresh ricotta, sugar, eggs and alcohol (Sambuca or Strega).  The word ‘pizza’ actually means flat and round.  Pizza con la ricotta is usually round, but today ours is rectangular.  I was not allowed to cut into it to take a cross sectional photo, so I will have to add it later!

Which dolci di Natale will be on your table tomorrow night? Buon Natale e Buon Appetito, Cristina