Munching on chiacchiere for Carnevale is one of my almost-springtime traditions here in Calabria. In case you’re not sure what they are:
Chiacchiere: The traditional pastry for Carnevale.
Known by a ridiculous number of names throughout Italy such as Cenci (rags/tatters), Bugie (lies), Guanti (gloves), Nastri delle suore (nuns’ ribbons), Fritelle, Crostoli, Frappe, and often called Lovers’ Knots in English, these fried, powdered-sugar-dusted treats are just what the dottore ordered after a long, hard winter.
Maybe not so heart smart, but hey, that’s why they’re a treat, right?
Here in my corner of Calabria, they’re called “Chiacchiere,” which I like to think of as “chit chat” — these definitely make noises as you crunch into them (and you probably make some noises too as you shift wildly to avoid sprinkling your entire self with powdered sugar in the meantime).
A kind of Italian “snap crackle pop,” kinda sorta.
Some recipes call for rum, whiskey, brandy, grappa, anise, or the like, and many are tied in knots, but the ones I’ve seen around here are just strips, so those are the instructions below.
P’s mom doesn’t make these, so I borrowed this recipe from my dear friend Mary Amabile Palmer’s Cucina di Calabria: Treasured Recipes and Family Traditions from Southern Italy (a cookbook that I cannot recommend highly enough):
Recipe for Chiacchiere for Carnevale
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs, well beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- zest of 1 small lemon
- 1 to 2 teaspoons milk
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Powdered sugar for dusting
1. In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
2. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
3. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest and mix well.
4. Place mixture on lightly floured surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic. If dough is hard, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of milk.
5. Form dough into ball, place in greased bowl, turn to coat, and then cover with towel and let stand for 10 minutes.
6. Roll out into sheets, 1/8 thick. (I’ve seen other recipes that recommend folding the dough over and doing this a few times, but you can use your judgment.)
7. Cut dough into 3 by 5 inch strips. Put a small slit in the center of each strip and twist slightly.
8. Deep fry strips of dough for 1 to 3 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain.
9. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
I don’t think I have to tell you that I think these are great with espresso, do I?
Buon appetito e Buon Carnevale!
Have you had these fried treats? What do you call them?