This recipe is a tribute to my birthplace, Calabria. My Calabrese mother has never been much of a baker, but bocconotte (meaning small bites) are one dessert she made often. Bocconotte are tartlets with a sweet, orange-scented dough that’s filled with jam or chocolate. My mother still makes them in her special bocconotti pans, but they can also be made in muffin tins. She also sometimes fills some of hers with chocolate hazelnut spread as an extra-special treat for my sister and me.
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, sift the flour, granulated sugar, yeast, and vanilla powder, and whisk to combine.
In a small bowl, lightly whisk four of the eggs. Cut the shortening into small pieces, and add to the flour mixture. Add the eggs and orange zest, and knead the mixture until a shaggy dough begins to form. Addthe liqueur, and continue to knead until a smooth dough forms, 3 to 5 minutes. Cover the dough with a tea towel, and let rest for about 10 minutes.
Generously grease 1 to 2 standard muffin pans with shortening (enough to accommodate 16 bocconotte). Pinch a 1-oz. (about 1-1/2 Tbs.) piece of dough, and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball on the counter, and place it into one of the muffin cups. Use your fingers to press it into the bottom and three-fourths up the sides of the opening. Repeat to fill 15 more muffin cups.
Place 1 Tbs. of the jam or chocolate spread (or use a combination, 1/2 Tbs. of each) into the middle of each piece of dough. Pinch off another 1-oz. piece of dough, roll into a ball, and flatten to about 3 inches in diameter. Place on top of one of the muffin cups, and pinch the sides together with the bottom piece of dough to seal in the filling. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Make an egg wash by whisking the remaining egg with 1 Tbs. water, and brush the top of each pastry with the wash.
Bake until the pastries are golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely, remove from the muffin tins, and sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar.
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