The Best Honey Cookie Recipe From Lorena Petani

Photo credit: Lorena Petani

When it comes to treating yourself, there are few things more satisfying than a homemade cookie. However, Lorena Petani, an expert Site Finder for films who is based in Chicago, Illinois, shares a time-tested recipe that traces back to the Calabria region of Italy.

Honey cookies, also known as Scalille (as well as Scalille Calabresi or sometimes Taralli), are deep-fried heaven . Petani has a long history with honey cookies; she notes that a friend used to rush inside her childhood home to watch her grandmother craft them. Every detail of the process was etched into her friend's mind. However, years later after her grandmother passed away, the family realized they were left without the original recipe — or so they thought.

Later, when the friend's childhood home was put up for sale, the family came across a mysterious box in the basement when sorting. In that box, to their delight, was a recipe that was handwritten by her grandmother for Turide (how the cookies were known in the regional Italian dialect). The box also contained a small glass washboard used to give the cookies the ideal shape and texture.

Armed with this knowledge, the family attempted to recreate the honey cookies, but found it wasn't as easy as first thought. Here are the step-by-step details based on the original recipe from her friend's grandmother, with an alternative version and some additional suggestions from Lorena Petani to help achieve the most delicious results.

What You'll Need

Photo credit: Lorena Petani

According to the recipe rewritten from the family friend's grandmother, you'll need just a handful of ingredients (as well as a pot/pan and measuring spoons) to create these treats based on the original recipe.

On hand, you'll require 8 or 9 cups of flour, 1 cup of oil, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of Muscatel wine (more on this later), and 1 tablespoon of salt. You'll also need some honey to coat the final product, if you want it to live up to its namesake.

How to Make The Honey Cookies

Photo credit: Lorena Petani

The first step is to heat the oil, water, and wine together until it comes to a boil. At that point, switch off the heat and add the flour and the salt.

Mix it all quickly and make shapes from the dough, which is made easier with a washboard that can achieve a "rigatoni pasta" appearance.

Let the newly-shaped dough rest covered for a few hours, and then drop them in the oil to deep-fry them until they're golden brown. When done, set the cookies down on clean towels to let them cool and shed their excess oil, says Lorena Petani. Once this is completed, you can dip each cookie in warm honey and enjoy.

An Alternative Approach

There's another version of this recipe referred to as Taralli that includes sugar, eggs, and liqueur, but in less measured amounts. "A handful of sugar per three eggs," as well as "two coffee cups full of anisette liqueur," reads the recipe.

Instead of dropping flour into a hot mixture at the start, you combine the eggs, sugar, liqueur, and some vegetable oil into a bowl to mix, then stir in flour until the dough becomes elastic. After a light dusting of flour, you hand-roll the dough into rope that's about half an inch thick. Then fold it in half and twist each end in the opposite direction and join the ends.

The next step includes the deep-frying — either in a heavy pot or a deep fryer. Place up to five Taralli at a time into the pot, flip them when they float to the top, then let them cool on a clean surface covered by a paper towel.

Other Things to Keep in Mind From Lorena Petani

Photo credit: Lorena Petani

As mentioned, it could take a few tries to get this traditional recipe from her friend's grandmother quite right, notes Lorena Petani. However, luckily there are a few tricks you can keep in mind to help the making of the honey cookies go a bit more smoothly.

She notes that the dough should be kneaded immediately on the counter when removed from the pan. She also says that you don't need a vintage glass washboard like the one her friend's grandmother used — you can find something equivalent for the job to create the texture.

Regarding the Muscatel wine, you should consider using premium Chilean Moscato (Puñao del Itata) to enhance the flavor. To make the cookie-making itself more of an experience, sip some Prosecco as you move through the recipe. And of course, don't forget to enjoy the honey cookies and share them with friends.

It's also a good idea in general to record traditional recipes from your family members so future generations can keep them going.

"From generation to generation, this cookie has found its way into the future and we are all delighted by this heartfelt and most special experience," says Lorena Petani.

Photo credit: Lorena Petani

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