Sweet Recipe: Orange Cicerchiata – It’s Carnival Season!

“Cicerchiata” cluster-cake is made up of tiny sweet dough fried beads. They are slathered with honey and decorated with almonds and colourful sugar bits. This cake is widely popular in Southern Italy, with subtle variations but with different names.

As for this Abruzzese version, it is rooted into the Sangro area, which is well known for its top-quality honey. And it requires olive oil in the dough (butter may be used for the other versions).

“This is my grandma’s recipe and it reminds me when I was a kid I used to smell the sweet aroma of warm honey as soon as I stepped into her house.”

My grandma used to decorate it with colourful sugar bits and almonds, but sometimes she used dark chocolate chips.

I tried to follow accurately her recipe and I wished to add some orange and cinnamon whiffs, a well-balanced pairing with our Abruzzese “Millefiori” (All flower) mountain honey.

Cicerchiata is presented in single portions, nested in small dark chocolate baskets. Enjoy it!

Sweet Recipe: Sara’s Orange Cicerchiata

Cicerchiata from Abruzzo pronte per l'assaggio :: It's Carnival Season! | recipe and photo: ©SaraScutti
  • Author’s Recipe: Sara Scutti
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Italian, Abruzzo
  • Keywords: cicerchiata, cupcake, Italian holidays
  • Servings: 12 pieces
  • Prep Time: 1 h 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Medium

500 g wheat flour
4 medium eggs
4 tablespoons of evo olive oil
4 tablespoons of sugar
the zest of 1 organic orange
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

350 g all flower honey
1 tablespoon of sugar
100 g chopped hazelnut

300 g dark chocolate

2 L vegetable oil for frying

Special cookware
Muffin silicone molds or just crimped paper cups

On a wooden table place the flour, make a well in the center, crack the eggs into it, add sugar, orange peel, olive oil and cinnamon. Knead until you get a smooth dough; cover it with a cloth and let it rest for about twenty minutes.

In the meantime let’s make chocolate baskets. Melt chocolate in bain-marie and let it warm for a few minutes. Use a kitchen brush and carefully cover the inner part of the molds with chocolate. Place them into a freezer for a couple of minutes, if necessary, brush again and let it cool.
Use a toothpick to remove chocolate baskets from the molds.

Now back to our dough. Divide it into smaller parts and roll each piece out using the palm of your hands until you get 1 cm thick rolls (easier if you wet your fingertips). Cut the roll into small and even beads, about 1 cm thick.

Heat some oil in a large saucepan (deep pot), and when hot throw the dough beads in small batches, roll them over frequently with a skimmer until they become gold-colored. Take them out and transfer them to a paper towel to drain.

In another pan slowly heat the honey and add a spoonful of sugar (this will help honey stick to the the beads). As soon as it darkens throw the beads into it, add the hazelnuts, take the pan from the stove and mix until the beads stick together.

On some greaseproof paper form small “cicerchiata” heaps, let them cool and once ready, detach each single bundle and place them into the chocolate baskets. Add some orange peel and a sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts.