I come from the generation of women who wrote their favorite recipes on cute little index cards and organized them by category in equally adorable file boxes (very low-tech). I still have both my mother and grandmother’s collections and hold them very close to my heart. These precious handwritten documents tell our family stories. They bring up memories of family dinners, holidays, and that crazy neighbor who shared her Frito Taco Salad recipe. The cherished recipe boxes hold other favorites like Porcupine Meatballs, Chicken in Oven, and the timeless classic, Pumpkin Pie Chiffon.
My grandmother’s collection is scrap-book style, a large hardbound ledger with recipes held down by yellowing Scotch tape. Circa 1940’s, these recipes tell Nana’s story as she adapted to her new role as housewife and mother. She had little booklets titled “66 Delicious-Money-Saving Recipes for Use with Club Aluminum,” “Ways to Shape Ground Meats,” and “How to Make Meat Go Further.” How about these to send a strong message to women: “Short Rib Stew is Always a Favorite with Men!” or “Summer Refreshments: Reputation Recipes” from Family Circle magazine.
Nana’s recipe collection gives a glimpse into the life of a suburban housewife during WWII, when rationing and food shortages were common. For example, a magazine cut-out from 1942 reads, “Uncle Sam says, Don’t Throw That Away!” and “The War Outlaws Any Kind of Waste.”
Pasticiotti joins the collection:
So anyway, last year, during a visit to Boston, cousin Mary and I spent the afternoon going through her recipe collection. (Mary is my grandmother’s niece by marriage, so I think that makes her my cousin once removed.) Just like Nana, Mary’s recipe collection is a hodge-podge of newspaper clippings, torn out magazine pages and scribbled-on recipe cards. These recipes tell another chapter of our family history.
Loving everything to do with Italian desserts, Mary’s recipe for Pasticiotti caught my eye. There are made with sweet pastry dough and filled with a combination of fruit preserves and Italian liqueur. For now, during Covid, I turn to these beloved recipes. Somehow knowing the women in my family survived other horrendous challenges, gives me hope and a strong desire to bake some comfort foods. Enjoy.
- 3 ¼ cup flour
- ½ cup butter - chilled
- 1 zest of orange
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 medium eggs
- 1 cup orange marmalade
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup cherry preserves
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 ounce Luxardo or Kirch liqueur
- Preheat oven to 325 and grease the muffin tins or pustie tins.
- To Make the Sweet Dough:Put the flour and orange zest in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small 1/2 inch chunks and add to flour. Using your fingertips and thumbs, work the butter into the flour. Work the butter in for just a minute or two so that it is mostly incorporated, but you will still be able to see some of the little chunks of butter among the flour. Just make sure they are smaller than pea-sized.Mix eggs, sugar and salt. Add to flour/butter mixture. Stir until a uniform dough is just formed. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board, and form into a round disk about 5 inches in diameter. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the filling: In a large mixing bowl, add marmalade, vanilla, cherry preserves, chopped walnuts, and liqueur. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- Next, remove dough from the fridge, discard plastic wrap, and put the dough on a lightly floured board. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter, glass or large ravioli cutter to cut out 3 ½ inch rounds for the filling and 2 ½ inch rounds for the top, an equal number of each.
- Hold a 3 ½ inch dough round in the palm of your hand and fill with 1 heaping tablespoon of filling.
- Place one of the smaller rounds on top and pinch to seal. Now you have a cute little tart!(Note) If you are using the pustie tins, place the large dough round in first, press gently into the scalloped shape. Add the filling and then place on the 2 ½ inch round. Pinch to seal.
- For an optional added bonus: Before baking, I like to make a little heart-shaped piece of dough and place it top before baking. Another option is to put a dab of filling on top before baking.Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool before serving - if you can wait!