A ciambella is a simple ring-shaped bread made of egg, shortening and sugar -- basically, an Italian bundt cake. Ciambelle are often served as an afternoon snack at a bar or cafe. They can be dressed with glazes, syrups or berry compote.

This decadent winter version is inspired by Emilia-Romagna. The fresh chestnuts and chestnut flour bring a smoky flavor and smell that reeks of the Apennines outside of Bologna.

For a decidedly Italian flavor, I soak the currants in grappa, a traditional peasant liqueur. Made from the scraps of what's used to make wine -- the skins, seeds, and stems -- grappa is fermented and distilled. Now thought by many to be an elegant after-dinner drink, grappa comes from humble beginnings.

This moist and delicious cake has an almost pudding-meets-a-cloud-in-heaven texture, thanks to the chestnut flour and the shredded raw apple. The cloves add a holiday flavor that makes this a logical addition to any winter feast.

Mario Batali is the owner of Babbo, Lupa, Otto and other renowned restaurants. His latest book is "Molto Batali," published by Ecco.



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