The Baker’s Passport – Italy

by Jeanne


Around the world at the holidays there are many cookies shared only during Christmas time.  Naples is no exception as the number of holiday cookies is many.  Recipes in English are not easy to come by as in general they haven’t been codified widely due to the history of origin.  Between the middle ages and the end of the 18th century most pastries in Southern and Central Italy where produced by covenants and a few monasteries. The pastries were sold to the public and the money used for upkeep and charity. Most of these recipes were only made in a single convent and the recipe was kept among the women.  As the power of the church declined many religious institutions closed and many of the recipes for these traditional sweets were sold off with exclusivity to pastry makers. Among a few Neapolitan Christmas treats are La collana del prete , the priest’s necklace, chestnuts strung together; Divino Amore, Rococò, Mustacciuoli and the sesame-honey "S" shaped cookie Susamielli pictured above.


1 1/2 cups honey
1 cup sugar
1 lemon, zest grated
3 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring honey, sugar and lemon zest to a temperature of 175 degrees. Form a
well out of the flour and mix in cloves and cinnamon. Pour the warm honey mixture
into the well and bring dough together with a fork, similiar to making pasta. Knead
dough with hands 2 minutes until smooth and elastic, 2 to 3 minutes.

Cut the dough into 1 1/2" balls and roll each ball into 4-inch long rope form. Form
each rope into an "S" shape and place onto a greased cookie sheet. Place in oven
and bake 20 to 22 minutes until light golden brown; remove; cool on baking