The puff pastry camels (cammelli di pasta sfoglia) are a typical recipe from Varese, a city located in Italy, not far from Milan, very close to the border with the Switzerland.
Those sweets are usually made only one day per year: January the 6th, in order to celebrate the Three Kings (Re Magi) bringing gifts to the new-born Jesus. Actually, we don’t know why the cammelli di pasta sfoglia, can be found only in Varese; but we know if you try to ask for them in any other pastry shops of Italy, included the ones in Milan, you are not going to find them. They won’t even know what cammelli di pasta sfoglia are, but very few specialized ones.
How to prepare the traditional puff pastry for the cammelli di pasta sfoglia
Even though you can use the common puff pastry, we are presenting here a traditional recipe. We have also to add there is not a unique recipe, cause these recipes are often sent from mother to daughter, and each family can have its own tips or ingredients. As well as the pizza in Naples.
Ingredients for 4 people
• 425 gr flour (better to use 275 gr flour + 150 Manitoba flour)
• 250 ml water
• 8 gr salt
• 250 gr butter
Mix 200 gr flour with the Manitoba flour with salt and water and knead them.
Gather the dough into a ball, and chill the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes, in the meanwhile mix the butter with the remaining flour (75 gr). After kneading it, gather the second dough into a ball, and chill the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes as well.
Before putting a dough in the fridge, just add some flour above it and cover with some paper.
Roll the first dough (the onw without butter) out into a rectangular shape and add the the second one in the middle (without rolling it out); cover the second dough with the corners of the first one and roll them out till having 1 cm of height. We incorporated the second dough (with the butter) in the first one.)
Then we can fold the dough in 3 or 4 parts. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, and chill the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, roll the dough and fold it again in 3 or 4 parts. We should repeat those steps 4 or 5 times. Some people add some extra sugar (sprinkling it on the dough) before folding it (only) the first time.
Our puff pastry is almost ready.
Traditional cream for the cammelli di pasta sfoglia
Usually according to the tradition, each mother is preparing the cammelli di pasta sfoglia for the family, together with a cream used to fill them. Nowadays, it’s also common to buy plain camels, but still preparing a hand-made cream at home.
The original cream is a mascarpone cheese cream. Ingredients:
• 250 gr mascarpone cheese
• 100 gr sugar
• 4 eggs
• A small glass of Grand Marnier or similar liquor. In order to have a alcohol-free recipe, we can use alternatively orange skins, lemon skins, vanilla extract.
Combine egg yolks with the sugar; beat until frothy (with whisk or electrical mixer), then pour in liquor/orange skins and the mascarpone cheese, while you keep beating the mixture. In a different bowl, beat the egg whites till stiff and add to the cream, till having a homogeneous mixture.
Put it into the fridge for 30 minutes.
Instead of this mascarpone cheese cream, we can use the crema pasticcera (similar to the cuttard), or crema pasticcera with the camel milk, chocolate cream or others. Usually the camels are filled with the cream, but you can also serve the plain camels with a bowl with the cream in the middle (so we have something similar to the hummous) or you can deep part of the camels in the chocolate and put them into the fridge.
Ready to cook..
Once the cream is ready, you can start preparing your camels using a mold or cutting them directly with a knife (with the support of a camel-shape). Before cutting, put some flour, so the mold will not remain attached to the dough. You can knead again the remaining part, and realize other camels, or you can also realize a scenario: dunes, palms, and so on. The camels can also have a different size, in order to give the idea of the perspective when served all together.
After cutting, we can put some with white or brown sugar above them. Put in the oven at 180° for 20-22 minutes, till the camels are brown colored and 1 cm tall.
Once ready, let them cool down.
Then cut with a knife and fill with your cream.
You cammelli di pasta sfoglia are ready to be delivered