Turdilli & Chinudille
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Turdilli & Chinulille

A plate of Turdilli & Chinudille Italian Christmas cookies.

Dino gets together with his dad and uncle around this time every year to make his grandma’s Christmas cookies. They’re the kind that she used to make when she was back in Calabria, Italy. They’re dense, honey-coated cookies, some of which (the Chinulille) are filled with nuts and raisins. It’s a tradition that they want to keep in the family. It’s always a lot of fun when they come together to bake these, and it’s the one time of the year that I avoid the kitchen for a few hours. Our tiny kitchen isn’t big enough for more than that many people. This recipe makes a TON of cookies, and I’m glad to have it as a family tradition.

Turdilli & Chinudille

Here’s a shot of the 3 of them consulting the recipe (and drinking some wine!):

Turdilli & Chinudille

And here’s Uncle Tony coating the baked cookies in honey:

Turdilli & Chinudille

Print
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A plate of Turdilli & Chinudille Italian Christmas cookies

Turdilli & Chinulille

  • Author: Covelli Family Recipe
  • Prep Time: 30 Mins
  • Cook Time: 60 Mins
  • Total Time: 90 Mins
  • Yield: 30-50 Cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

Scale

DOUGH

  • 5 lbs All Purpose Flour (plus extra flour for dusting)
  • 1 Bottle Sweet Vermouth (750 ml)
  • 2 Cups Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Cups Olive Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tbsn Sugar
  • 2 Tbsn Orange Zest (approximately 2 oranges)
  • 1 Tbsn Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

CHINULILLE FILLING

  • 1 lb Crushed Walnuts
  • 1 Cup Honey
  • 1 Cup Raisins
  • 2 T Grape Jelly

GLAZE

  • 3 lbs minus 1 Cup Honey

TOOLS

  • 2 Very Large Mixing Bowls
  • 1 Medium Sized Sauce Pan
  • 2 Cookie Sheets
  • 34” Diameter Circular Cookie Cutter, Jar or Coffee Can
  • Rolling Pin
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Optional: Silpat® Non-Stick Baking Mat

Instructions

DOUGH

  1. In a very large mixing bowl, whisk the the oil, sweet vermouth, salt and sugar.
  2. In a separate, very large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, orange zest and cinnamon. Create a pool in the center of the flour. Crack the eggs into the pool and beat them until they begin to absorb the flour.
  3. Incorporate the wet ingredients into the flour, slowly folding them together. Kneed with your hands until the mixture is the consistency of a thick paste. Cover the bowl with a towel and let stand.

CHINUlILLE FILLING

  1. Heat 1 cup of the honey in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the Raisins, Crushed Walnuts and Jelly. Keep warm.

ASSEMBLING THE CHINULILLE

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Dust the counter with flour and add a large handful of dough.
  2. Using the rolling pin, roll the dough evenly until it is fairly thin
  3. Cut 3-4″ circles out of the dough
  4. Add 1 Tbsn of filling to each circle, fold in half and crimp closed with a fork
  5. Bake on a greased cookie sheet (or Silpat) for 20 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Remove cookies and let cool

CREATING THE TURDILLE

  1. Dust the counter with flour and add a large handful of dough
  2. Roll the dough into a pipe, about 1/2″ in diameter
  3. Cut on a slight angle into 1 1/2 inch long, diagonal segments
  4. Using the tines of a fork, push backwards on the dough to shape “gnocchi” with fairly deep grooves
  5. Bake on a greased cookie sheet (or Silpat) for 20 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Remove cookies and let cool

GLAZING

  1. After the cookies have cooled, add about 1″ of honey to a medium sized saucepan over high heat. When the honey begins to boil, remove it from the burner and add a couple handfuls of cookies
  2. Using a slotted spoon, stir and coat the cookies. Drain the excess honey and allow cookies to cool. Add more honey, reheat and repeat as necessary

Notes

Allow the cookies to cool for at least an hour before serving.

Keywords: Chinulille, Turdille, Calabria, Calbrian, Calabrese, Cosenza, Italian, cookie, dessert, holiday

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14 Comments

  • Anne

    I’m so happy to have found this recipe! The Chinulille was a favorite of mine as a kid, and I used to make them at Christmas time with my grandma. This was a passion of hers, and the recipe was never written down…only passed down. So i’m so excited to try to make these. She used to use strips of dough and spread the filling on the strip and then roll them. I do have a question. How long do i let the dough sit after i make it? Can i use it after an hour? Or just a few minutes?

    • Ashley

      I’m so glad you came across this recipe, Anne! I asked my husband and he said, “We haven’t tried letting the dough rest but if she’s going to make that very large batch I’m sure it will be fine for an hour. She should put it in a bowl and cover it with a towel so it doesn’t dry out too much” – hope that helps! Let me know how they turn out!

  • Beth Ann Lombardo

    These are AMAZING! I made them today. My question is how do you store them? In a tin so they stay crispier or in plastic which will make them soft. I was thinking tin.
    Also, does the honey completely dry or will it be sticky? I have made them and they are cooling. We eating them just dipped in room temp honey. lol Thank you! Buon Natale!






    • Ashley

      I’m so glad to hear they were a hit!!! Yes they do get sticky – we usually keep them in a tin with wax paper in between layers. You may at some point need to re-dip them in honey if it starts to slide off and they aren’t coated any longer. Merry Christmas!!

    • Noah Talerico

      I store them in aluminum foil trays, but I don’t think it matters much what you store them in. They last about a month in my experience. The honey is a little sticky, but we cook the honey to about 200F….slightly before creating a softball (240F). The honey will stick to the cookies and will be slighty “gooey”. We leave them to dry overnight and that helps solidify the honey coating. We NEVER stack them….they will stick together. And never OVERCOOK the honey or it will be like a candied apple coating and they will break when you store them because they’re all stuck together. It’s not an exact science though. Sometimes I only cook the honey for a few minutes (like 2-3) rather than 5-6. It comes out the same. Honestly, I just cook the honey until it starts boiling and frothing. So long as you dry them and NEVER stack them….at least not until the honey dries.






  • Beth Ann Lombardo

    Thank you!!! I may just dip a batch or so at time. However they are so good a batch won’t last long. I do believe this will be a new family favorite for years to come.






    • Ashley

      We were actually supposed to make these again with my husband’s uncle today but the timing didn’t work out. I’m so, so glad you were able to make them and that you’re enjoying them so much

  • Janice

    My ancestors are from Calabria. My family made these cookies every Christmas season.
    It was a wonderful gathering. Uncles, Aunts, even the kids helped to make them. Many years have passed and so have most of the Aunts and Uncles. I think the uncles drank more wine than made cookies:)
    However, their version of these cookies were
    deep fried. It was exciting to find that they can be baked. Hanging on to this recipe for next year.

    Thank you!

  • Noah Talerico

    My family is from Calabria around Cosenza. We make the same fried cookies for Christmas but with a few minor differences.

    For the Chinullile we use dates instead of raisins and, although traditionally we use Walnuts, we also use pecans since we live in Texas and they are plentiful. We have never used grape jelly, but we do add grape molasses and sometimes jallab to the honey dates and nuts.

    For the dough we use port wine instead of vermouth and don’t add the orange zest.

    We also never baked them (although I’m sure it’s A LOT healthier). We always deep fry the cookies in oil. In fact, all of our Christmas cookies are deep fried in oil. My family in Calabria still does the same thing. Frying dough is a Christmas tradition.

    For the turdilli, my aunt makes the little squares, but my grandmother taught me and we always shape them into little gnocci balls….so they look like fried gnocci. Kind of like the struffoli in Napoli…but without sprinkles.

    We also make scallile. But my grandmother taught me to make a crystalized egg-white sugar to coat them instead of just powdered sugar. We cook the sugar to a softball and then beat some egg whites and create a sort of meringue. We then add the hot sugar while beating (it’s hard to do by yourself). The end result is a sweet white coating. They were my favorite growing up.

    Finally, we make little braids called respellele. It’s basically a slightly sweetened pasta dough with anisette that we braid, fry, and coat in honey.

    I loved watching how your family keeps the tradition alive. It’s important, I think, to preserve those traditions for future generations. I have to admit that many of our traditions wained as the older generation died off. My generation is not so keen on keeping those old traditions. But I keep in touch with my family in Calabria and do my best to keep it alive with my immediate family.






    • Ashley

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment, Noah! It sounds like your family has a lot of great cookie traditions. My husband has heard of some of the other ones you mentioned but not all of them. They sound delicious! Fried cookies would be delicious also, albeit a bit more labor intensive.

      It’s so nice that you’re still able to keep in touch with your family members that are in Calabria. I hope you’ll consider trying to keep those food traditions alive for future generations – or even for strangers on the internet! It’s such a great way to explore different cuisines, and the stories that go along with recipes like this can be so special.

      This year will be our 3rd Christmas since my father-in-law passed away, and these cookies bring us such fond memories of him.

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