Sfratti 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 moremmana, 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. My family thinks these are better than rugelach!
For the 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 the 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 dried bread crumbs for dusting
1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water, for egg wash
Chill a pastry board.
To make the 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 from the bowl and gather it 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 the 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. 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 that is 12 to 14 inches long. Place a 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 Forty-Eight 2-inch-long cookies
by Joyce Goldstein
1998, Hardcover, US $29.95
Reprinted by permission.
This page created September 1998
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