Sweet Recipe: Fried Carnival Pastries

“Chiacchiere” are a crunchy and crumbly holidays pastry sheets, usually made during Carnival time, and their names change in almost every Italian region…

They are called:

  • chiacchiere (i.e. small talk) and lattughe (i.e. “lettuce”) in Lombardy,
  • cenci (“rags”) and donzelle (“damsels”) in Tuscany,
  • frappe and sfrappole in Emilia,
  • cròstroli in Trentino,
  • galani e gale in Veneto,
  • bugie (“lies”) in Piedmont,
  • as well as rosoni, or lasagne in Abruzzo.

Their origins dates back to the Roman period, when pastries named “frictilia” were fried and offered during Saturnalia, one of the pagan rites that are supposed to be the roots of Carnival. Frictilia were served to the feasting people on the streets, were easy to cook in great amounts at a very low cost. Frictilia custom reached our times, with little changes to the basic recipe and to the local traditions.

Basic “Chiacchiere” are fried zig-zagged stripes of pastry, dusted with powdered sugar; but honey, cocoa and alchermes can be used, too. They can be served with dark chocolate, or with mascarpone or zabaglione cream. In the past, also with “sanguinaccio” – a sweet blood pudding made of pork blood, chocolate and orange zest.
They come in many shapes: knots, bows, or in rectangular shape with a central slit or even stuffed – just like ravioli – with marmalade or chocolate.

Appetibilis: Sara's Carnival Chiacchiere

  • Servings: 40 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


500 gr of wheat flour
70 gr of sugar
50 gr of butter
3 medium-size eggs
6 gr of cake baking powder
1 shot glass of anisette liqueur (about 30 gr)
Peel of 1 orange
1 egg yolk
Orange marmalade (or other)
Peanut oil q.s.
Powdered sugar q.s.

Let’s start with the dough – Sift the flour with baking powder, add eggs, sugar, softened butter, anisette liqueur and the orange zest. Knead the ingredients until you get a smooth dough and let rest for about 30 minutes. Divide the dough into two parts.

For classic “Chiacchiere: – Roll out one part until you get a 2-3 mm thick sheet; use a pastry wheel to cut rectangular shapes about 5×10 cm; in the middle of each rectangle cut a 5-6 cm slit. In order to get the “bow” shape, insert the short edge into the cut.

For “Sweet ravioli” – Roll out the dough until you get a wide rectangle and cut long strips. Place some jam in tiny heaps, fold the strip onto the longer edge to seal the ravioli and cut them out with the pastry wheel.

Frying – Heat a generous amount of peanut oil into a high pot, fry the “chiacchiere” until they turn into a golden color.

Drain them from extra oil on a kitchen towel (or paper towel) and let cool. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. (Mine were served with a mascarpone cream).

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