Saturday, December 25, 2010

Calabrian Christmas Speciality - Petrali

I dedicate this post to my beautiful Calabrian relatives whom I can't be with but think of often and this Christmas I am with you in spirit.

Petrali are a traditional Christmas Calabrian sweet filled with figs and almonds. This may sound almost Sicilian and in fact the two areas are separated only by a ocean strait. However these are fervently Calabrian, actually to be precise more so from Reggio Calabria. The recipe comes from my dear cousin who loves baking sweets as much as I do. I have only slightly adapted the recipe and also halved it. They are wonderful with a thin coating of dark chocolate but they can also be icing with glace icing. With this recipe I made about 60 petrali with some filling leftover.

Firstly you must prepare the filling a few days before hand. This is the most delicious fruit mince I have ever tasted. I eat it by the spoon in an uncontrollable fashion.

 I can't buy vin cotto so my cousin told me what she does. First take a one litre bottle of white wine, an apple, a pear, an orange, 50g sugar and a cinnamon stick. Put the whole lot (fruit is left whole) in a saucepan and simmer  until reduced to about 250ml.


300g figs, finely chopped
100g sultanas
250ml reduced wine (as above)
125ml strong black coffee
100g sugar
150g almonds, toasted and finely chopped
150g walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
3 teaspoons cinnamon
100g dark 70% chocolate
Marsala to moisten

Combine in a saucepan figs, sultanas, reduced wine, coffee and sugar. Heat gently and stir to combine and allow the fruits to plump and absorb the liquid. Cool. Add the remaining ingredients, adding Marsala if needed. Store in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours adding more Marsala if needed. Taste and add more sugar also if needed. 

Pasta Frolla ( Pastry)

500g flour
1 sachet of raising powder for cakes ( or 1 teaspoon of baking powder)
100g butter
200g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated rind of one lemon
3 eggs

 Heat oven to 180C.
In the food processor place flour, raising powder and butter. Pulse until crumbly. Adds sugar. Pulse to mix. Add vanilla, lemon rind and eggs. Pulse to combine. I needed a dash of sweet sherry to bring it all together but that might have just been the weather. Only add a drop of milk or sweet sherry if you need it.

Roll the dough out to about 5mm thickness and cut circle of about 6 or 7 cm in diameter. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the rounds, dampen the edges with water and fold to close. Place the semi circles on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake in 180C oven until golden about 12-15 mins. Cool and coat the tops with melted dark chocolate and sprinkle with decorations of choice.

Enjoy your Christmas with your family and friends, give thanks for God's gift of his Son Jesus, and let's be grateful for our many blessings.

May God bless you all!


  1. Ciao! This look delicious! Part of my Italian heritage comes from Calabria too & Sicily.

  2. Delicious!!! So beautiful and yummy!!!
    I'm giving you a lovely blog award! If you accept it, take a look at my blog and take it!
    Merry Christmas for you and your family!

  3. I think I wished you a Merry Christmas on your other post, but I don't remember if I did or not, I wished so many friends today it's hard to keep track lol. Buon Natale!!!

  4. I've never heard of these and my father's family is Calabrian. I think I will add these to my Christmas cookie baking next year.

  5. I am sorry you had a hard time this year too, I wish you the best next year, I hope you have a better year!!

  6. These look absolutely delicious (I love pasta frolla) and thankyou so much for the recipe for vin cotto! That will definitely come in handy. I wish you a very Merry Christmas! :D

  7. So pretty! Merry Christmas!

  8. This is just scrumptious - I would have thought Sicilian but I am exploring more of Calbria and of course you are right. What delights you have here!


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