In a couple of weeks, Poderi di Montemerano, a small but picturesque village in the Fiora Valley, will be holding its annual tortelli festival.
I’ve already shared the recipe to the delicious and dead easy to make Tortelli Maremmani. But today I wanted to share something utterly unique and utterly Maremma – sweet tortelli.
These pillows of stuffed pasta are fried until they’re crispy and served as dessert! I know it sounds strange, but they are amazing. You bite through the crisp dough into a sugary spoonful of warm ricotta – aka heaven.
This recipe is a local favourite. It’s exactly like a normal tortelli or ravioli recipe, you just add sugar. You don’t have to make the pasta from scratch. You can buy the fresh lasagna sheets and cut and paste them into tortelli shapes if you like – no one will know the difference.
The tortelli are served with a drizzle of alchermes – an Italian liqueur infused with cinnamon, sugar, vanilla and a small parasitic insect that gives it a shocking red colour. You can replace it with another sweet liqueur like vin santo or sherry.
For the pasta
- 350g plain flour
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- olive oil
For the filling
- 350g fresh ricotta
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp of alchermes (optional)
- vegetable oil for frying
To make the pasta, place the flour in a medium sized bowl. Add the sugar and make a well in the centre. Crack in the eggs and add a drizzle of olive oil. Mix it all together with a fork. Then slowly add drizzles of warm water until the dough comes together into a smooth, not sticky, dough.
Tip onto a floured surface. Knead for 3-4 minutes and then leave to rest covered with a tea towel for 30 minutes.
To make the filling, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. You can add another splash of alchermes or more sugar if you like. Set aside.
Divide the dough into four pieces. Pass each through a pasta maker on the widest setting. You roll one piece at a time through the machine, dust it with flour, fold it into thirds and then pass it back through the machine another two times so you get a nice, smooth dough.
When you’re happy with the consistency, dust the sheets of pasta with some more flour and pass them through the pasta machine again on the second-tightest setting to get long, thin lasagna sheets.
Place a tablespoon of the filling about 5-6cms apart. Brush a bit of water all around the filling and place another sheet of pasta on top. Press around the edges to seal the filling shut inside the pasta.
Using a ravioli cutter or a knife, cut the sheets to make about 10-12 round tortelli. Remember, tortelli are bigger than ravioli, so you shouldn’t get too many.
Place the tortelli in the fridge while you prepare the oil for frying. Fill a saucepan with about 5cm of vegetable oil. Heat until boiling and then drop the tortelli in two or three at a time. Cook for 30-40 seconds or until browned. Drain on a sheet of absorbent paper.
Serve warm with a sprinkle of sugar, a drizzle of alchermes and a dusting of cinnamon. Yum!