I’d like to call these biscotti, only because they are crunchy and crumbly like a biscotto is, however they are not baked twice. They’re not even baked once! They are deep fried and then dunked in boiled honey. We traditionally make these Calabrian Wine cookies or biscuits around Christmas time. Canestra means basket in Italian and I believe that’s where the name derived from, although I’ve heard them called Turdilli or Turdiddri in other towns. The method is so beautiful as well, each one is rolled onto a basket (like when you make cavatelli) which gives them their unique pattern. They keep for many weeks in a tightly closed container. These can be pre-made and fried at least a week before you need them, reserving the final step of dunking in hot honey until you are ready to eat them. Sprinkle with colored nonpareils before serving.
2 cups Rose’ wine (You can use white wine too, Nonna doesn’t recommend using red wine only because they come out a darker color.)
1 cup water
1 cup olive oil (No need to use your best oil here, regular olive oil is fine. I still would not use vegetable oil or canola oil because I just don’t like the way it sits in my stomach.)
¾ cup Fresh Orange Juice
Zest of one orange
2lbs Tipo ‘00’ Flour (If you can’t just use a good unbleached all-purpose flour)
2 ½ teaspoons sea salt
Extra Olive Oil for frying
Honey for dunking, 1 pint or more
Wicker basket for rolling
In a medium pot bring to a boil the liquid ingredients: wine, water, olive oil, orange juice and orange zest. In the meantime place 2lbs flour in a deep but wide bowl, form a well in the center of flour. Once the liquids come to a boil, slowly and very carefully so as not to get burned, pour the liquid into the flour well. Use a wooden spoon to incorporate the liquid into the flour. Once the dough is cool enough to touch, flip out onto wooden board or countertop and continue to knead for a few minutes. Dough should be soft and well mixed. Once it it, roll into a log and cut the log into 5 or 6 sections. Roll each section into a wide rope, about 10” long by 1.5” wide. Cut the rope into diagonal pieces, approximately 2.5” long. Take each 2.5” piece and roll it onto a wicker basket, using your first two or three fingers to make an indentation in the center, whilst rolling. This is the same method used for cavatelli making, but we use the basket instead of a countertop to roll them onto. Set each canariculu aside on a cookie sheet, they can be quite close together while they wait to be fried. In a large, deep pot pour several inches (about 2-3”) of regular olive oil and turn heat on to medium-high. Watch it carefully, you do not want it to smoke. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. When oil reaches about 360 degrees Fahrenheit it’s ready. Alternately you made put in a small piece of dough into hot oil, if it sizzles, you now it’s ready. Fry in batches, do not overcrowd pan. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir then canariculi in the frying oil. Fry for about 3-4 minutes or until they float and are also a deep golden brown. Using a slotted spoon remove the cooked ones and place them on paper towels to cool off.
In a separate pot bring your honey to a slow boil over low heat. Be very careful as hot sugar can cause sticky burns! Once the honey is liquified and boiling add the cacariculi a few at a time, toss and gently fold the honey all around them with a wooden spoon. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the hot honey and transfer to a serving platter. Each one can also be placed on a cupcake liner if you prefer. Some of my aunts would do that but my mamma was never that fancy so they all went on one platter is a rustic arrangement. Sprinkle with colored nonpareils and enjoy with a nice cappuccino or tea!