Scent of Christmas: A Recipe for Apulian Cartellate Christmas Cookies

Indulgent sweets typical of Apulia, usually prepared during the holiday season: the Apulian cartellate. As December arrives, trays of the marvelous Cartellate biscuits can be seen throughout the region.

The Story of Puglia’s Christmas Cookies

A recipe handed down from one generation to the next, carpellate originally came to the area with the Greeks. A cave painting dating back to the 6th century BC found in Puglia actually shows the preparation of what looks very similar to the cartellate of today.

These biscuits are thin sheets of dough made with flour, oil and white wine, worked into the shape of a rose, fried in plenty of oil and garnished with honey or grape must. In Christian tradition, the characteristic shape represents the halo or bands that envelop the baby Jesus in the cradle, but also the crown of thorns at the time of His crucifixion. Here is the recipe to replicate these delicious sweets at home from Michelin-starred chef Antonella Ricci.


Flour 00: 300 g
Olive oil: 30 g
White wine: 115 g
Salt: 1 pinch
Vincotto: 200 g
Wildflower honey: 100 g
Colored sprinkles: to taste
Sunflower seed oil: to taste

Procedure for Cartellate

For the Dough

Sift the flour onto the pastry board, make a well, then incorporate the oil in the center. Slightly warm the wine and add it to the center then, with the help of a fork, start mixing the ingredients, continuing with your hands to knead vigorously. Once kneaded, let the mixture rest for half an hour.

To Form the Biscuits

Roll out the dough with a pastry roller and knead it until it is thin. Using a notched wheel, cut out many strips about 2 cm wide and 10 cm long. Pinch the pastry sheet with your hands and roll it on itself until you get the classic round shape with small hollows. Leave the cartellate to dry for about an hour.

Heat the oil to 170° and fry the cartellate on both sides until golden brown. Drain them on paper towels. Heat the vincotto in a small saucepan, then dip the cartellate in it for a few seconds and arrange them on a tray.


For the honey version, heat the honey slightly in a bain-marie and drop it with the special wooden pestle directly onto the cartellate arranged on the serving platter. Decorate with colorful sprinkles.

Antonella Ricci

Scent of Christmas: A Recipe for Apulian Cartellate Christmas Cookies

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