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Ceciarchiata (Italian Chanukah Confection)

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup toasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts*
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup toasted and coarsely chopped almonds

* Toast whole hazelnuts and almonds by preheating the oven to 550 degrees F and placing the nuts on a cookie sheet on the middle rack. Roast for 4 or 5 minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times. Watch them carefully, so they don't burn. Allow the nuts to cool for at least 10 minutes before chopping them very briefly in a blender or food processor.

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Instructions

  1. Put the eggs, flour, and salt in a bowl and stir to make a soft dough. Turn out on a floured working surface and knead the dough 1 to 2 minutes. Shape it into a ball, flatten it with your hands, and sprinkle it lightly with flour.
  2. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. With a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips and dredge these long strips in flour. Then cut them into chickpea-size bits, and again dredge with flour to prevent them from sticking to each other. Scoop up the bits in a large sifter to remove the excess flour.
  3. Heat the oil in a small saucepan or wok and fry a handful of the bits at a time until lightly golden, stirring so they are an even color. Drain on paper towels and cool. You can also bake them, one third at a time, on an ungreased cookie sheet on the middle rack of a preheated 400 degree F oven for 7 minutes.
  4. Bring the honey to a boil in a 6-cup heavy casserole and simmer over moderately high heat for 3 minutes. Add all the dough balls, the toasted and chopped hazelnuts, and the lemon peel and juice; cook over lower heat 7 minutes.
  5. Spread the toasted almonds over an oiled round serving platter and pour the hot mixture on top. Let it settle for a few minutes. When the mixture is cool enough to be handled, shape it into a circle with the help of a spoon and your moistened hands. Let it cool thoroughly at room temperature. It will harden a little. Either break off pieces with your fingers or cut into 2-inch segments.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings