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Susamielli

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A Susamiello, a Neapolitan Christmas Cookie

A Susamiello, a Neapolitan Christmas Cookie

© Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com
Susamielli are traditional Neapolitan Christmas cookies, and are S-shaped. For two possible reasons: First, in the past they were called sesamielli, and covered with sesame seeds. Second, they were (and are) called Sapienze, because they were made by nuns of the Monastero della Sapienza.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups and 1 tablespoon (250 g) flour
  • 9 ounces (250 grams, or about a cup) good honey
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1/4 pound (100 g) chopped almonds
  • Diced candied orange peel, melon peel, and citron
  • A mixture of ground cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg
  • A pinch of bicarbonate

Preparation:

Combine the almonds, citron, orange peel, and melon peel with the flour, and then heat the honey over a gentle flame.

Meanwhile, make a mound of the flour and scoop a well into it, and preheat your oven to 340 F (170 C).

As soon as the honey has heated and become liquid stir it into the flour, together with a pinch of bicarbonate and a teaspoon of the mixed spices, and work the dough until it is smooth and uniform.

Roll the dough out into a 3/4-inch (2 cm) thick snake. Cut it into sections about 8 inches long and shape them into an S shape, pressing on them gently to flatten them slightly, and arrange them on a greased and floured cookie sheet. Bake then 15-20 minutes. Cool them on a rack, and they're done.

Several Notes:
  • Susamielli are dipping cookies, and come out quite hard -- a Neapolitan site says a prova di denti, which roughly translates as impervious to teeth. You'll want to dip them in either a sweet dessert wine, coffee, or a caffelatte.
  • Sapienze, the Susamielli made by the nuns of the Convento della Sapienza, are dotted with whole almonds.
  • Susamielli taste wonderful but eating them takes work, and because of this Neapolitans will call a serious, standoffish person who has a hard time socializing a Susamiello.

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