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Calcionelli (Honey-Nut-Citrus Turnovers)

Scott Phillips

Yield: Makes 50 to 55 cookies

These fried pockets of almonds and honey are traditionally made with Punch Abruzzo—a sweet liqueur made from caramelized sugar and the zest of lemons and oranges—but Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or dark rum works well. You can also use 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract as a nonalcoholic substitute.


For the dough

  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lightly packed finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. Punch Abruzzo, orange liqueur, or dark rum

For the filling

  • 10 oz. (2 cups) blanched almonds
  • 1 tsp. lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lightly packed finely grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 cups vegetable oil for deep-frying; more or less as needed
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish


Make the dough

  • Combine the flour, sugar, lemon and orange zests, and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse briefly to combine. Scatter the butter in the work bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the eggs and pulse until they are just incorporated. With the motor running, add the liqueur in a drizzle and process just until the dough clumps together.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead to form a smooth ball. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Work in more flour by the tablespoon if it seems too sticky. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Make the filling

  • Pulse the almonds in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until coarsely ground. Add the lemon and orange zests and process until the mixture is finely ground.
  • Pour the honey into a 10-inch nonstick skillet and warm it over medium heat. As soon as the honey is loose, stir in the ground almonds. Use a silicone spatula to thoroughly combine the nuts and honey. Remove from the heat and scrape the mixture into a bowl. Let cool.

Fill the calcionelli

  • Dust a rimmed baking sheet or a clean tablecloth with flour. Have on hand a 2-3/4-inch round cookie cutter, a small bowl of water, and a fork.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut in half. Rewrap and refrigerate one half. Roll the other half out on a lightly floured work surface into a large thin circle (between 1/16 inch and 1/8 inch thick). Cut out as many circles as possible with the cookie cutter. Mound a scant teaspoon (or a little less) of the filling in the center of each circle. Dip a finger in the water and moisten the edges of the circle. Fold each circle into a half-moon. Press the tines of the fork along the edges to seal.
  • Transfer the calcionelli to the baking sheet or tablecloth. Reroll the scraps to cut out more circles; fill, shape, and seal. Repeat the process with the remaining half of the dough. You should end up with 50 to 55 calcionelli. There will be filling left over. The calcionelli can be made up to this point 2 days ahead and frozen.

Fry the calcionelli

  • Pour oil to a depth of 1 inch in a deep 3- to 4-quart sauté pan. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil registers 375°F on a deep-fry thermometer.
  • Place a paper-towel-lined baking sheet or tray lined with paper towels near the stove. Carefully add 6 to 8 calcionelli to the hot oil. Fry, using a skimmer to turn them over and move them, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet. Working in batches, repeat with the remaining calcionelli. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. To serve, dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar.
  • Calcionelli are best eaten within an hour or two of frying.


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