Tortellini Dolci al Forno (Emilian Fruit-Stuffed Christmas Cookies)

Not to be confused with the pasta of the same name, these classic Emilian Christmas cookies are made from a tender, flaky dough filled with a sweet-tart trio of fruit: cherry preserves, rich saba (cooked-down grape must), and candied citron.

tortellini dolci al forno
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christine Keely
Active Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 10 mins
2 dozen cookies


  • 2 1/3 cups Italian-style 00 flour (about 11 1/8 ounces), plus more for work surface

  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter (6 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) anisette (anise-flavored liqueur)

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup cherry preserves (such as Bonne Maman)

  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted slivered almonds

  • 1/3 cup diced candied citron (such as Paradise Fruit Company)

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons saba (reduced grape must syrup) (such as La Cà dal Non)

  • 1 large egg, separated

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


  1. Place flour, lemon zest, and salt in a food processor, and pulse until combined, about 2 pulses. Add butter; pulse in 3-second bursts until butter forms small crumbs, about 4 pulses. Add anisette and vanilla extract, and pulse just until dough comes together in a mass, about 6 pulses. Shape dough evenly into 2 (4-inch) disks. Wrap dough disks in plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, stir together preserves, almonds, citron, and saba in a small bowl. Chill, uncovered, until ready to use.

  3. Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper third and lower third positions. Whisk egg white in a small bowl until smooth. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap and roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured work surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out 12 circles using a 4-inch round cutter, rerolling scraps as needed. Spoon 2 level teaspoons of filling onto each dough circle. Working with 1 dough circle at a time, lightly brush dough edges with egg white, making sure to brush all the way to the outer edge of the circle; fold circle in half to form a half-moon that encloses the filling, and press edges together firmly to create a 1/4-inch seal around filling. Gently crimp edges using a fork. Place on prepared baking sheet. Once baking sheet is filled with half of the assembled cookies, place in refrigerator, and repeat process with remaining dough disk and preserves mixture. Chill both baking sheets of cookies at least 15 minutes.

  4. Whisk together egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Using a fork, prick tops of cookies to vent, and lightly brush cookies with egg yolk mixture. Bake cookies in preheated oven until puffed and set, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating baking sheets between top and bottom racks halfway through bake time. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool 30 minutes. Dust cookies with powdered sugar, and serve.

Make Ahead

Dough can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. Fully cooled baked cookies may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.


Saba is available at Candied citron is available at

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