Chiacchiere di Carnevale are a typical sweet made during Carnevale in Italy. Light and crisp and served dusted with powdered sugar, Chiacchiere are an addictive treat. I’m sharing with you my easy step by step method for making Chiacchiere!Chiacchiere di Carnevale are yet another one of those fried treats enjoyed during carnevale in Italy which marks the beginning of the Lenten period. Chiacchiere in Italian means chit chat or gossip. I’m not certain as to why they are called as such but I can imagine chit chatting with family and friends as I gobble these up!
Chiacchiere are thin strips of dough that puff up immediately when dropped in hot oil and the result is a crispy, not at all greasy bite that is as addictive as chips. I’m speaking from experience ’cause every time I pass by that container on the counter I stop to take just one more!
What is Carnevale and how is it celebrated?
I suppose it’s no coincidence that Carnevale is celebrated with lots of fried sweets when you take into consideration that Carnevale marks the beginning of Lent. Therefore, a final day of indulgences before the more solemn Lenten period begins is a must.
Back in my parents hometown in Naso (Sicily), Carnevale is celebrated with face painting, costumes, parades and of course lots of sweets. My cousin informed me that these chiacchiere are one of the most popular desserts.
Other Carnevale desserts that are enjoyed include Cassatelle with Ricotta; Cassatelle with Chickpea and Chocolate Filling; Lemon Ricotta Doughnuts and Pignolata, which is not only reserved for Christmas. Then there are the ever popular Sicilian Cannoli with Ricotta Filling. You don’t need a specific holiday to enjoy them!
Many names for chiacchiere!
Chiacchiere are called by several different names depending on the region in Italy where they are made. This includes frappe, crostoli, or cioffe to name a few. No matter what they are called the idea is always the same. Thin sheets of dough cut into strips, fried and dusted with powdered sugar.
How to make Chiacchiere di Carnevale:
You can find the complete detailed printable recipe card at the end of this post.
Begin by mixing flour with baking powder and sugar. Cut cubed cold unsalted butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry cutter. Make a well in the center of the flour and add eggs, grappa (or other alcohol of your choice, see note below) and lemon zest.
Use a fork to gently beat the eggs and incorporate the flour into the egg mixture to begin shaping a dough. Turn the mixture onto a clean surface and knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. The dough may appear dry but do not add extra liquid. It will become more supple and easy to handle after it rests. Cover and let rest at room temperature for an hour.Divide the dough into 4 pieces and keep the pieces you are not working with covered to prevent from drying. Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand and pass through the widest setting of your pasta roller. Roll the dough through this first setting several times, folding the dough lengthwise a few times until it is smooth. Gradually decrease the setting and roll the dough through the pasta roller until the second to last setting. Cover the sheet of dough to prevent from drying while you roll the remaining pieces of dough.
How to shape Chiacchiere di Carnevale:
Chiacchiere can be made in various shapes using a fluted pastry wheel to get those lovely scalloped edges. If you don’t have one, a knife will do.
You can basically cut into strips of any size you like. I prefer pieces approximately 1.5 x 5 inches.
Simple strips: This is the easiest shape, however they are my least favorite as they tend to flip over when I attempt to turn them over to brown the opposite side!
Slit in the centre: I’ve always wondered why chiacchiere were shaped this way and now I understand why! A simple slit down the center of the chiacchiere, as shown, make them easier to fry as they don’t tend to revert back when flipped.Threaded: Cut with the slit in the center, as shown directly above. Next, simply thread one end through the slit in the center and pull gently to open it up. And they’re quite pretty too!
To fry Chiacchiere di Carnevale:
Fill a wide, deep heavy bottomed pan with about an inch or two of vegetable oil. Heat oil on high heat. When the oil is hot, add the strips of chiacchiere. They will immediately puff up. Turn over and brown the opposite side. This literally takes seconds.
After the oil heats up, you will have to turn the temperature down to medium high to prevent them from burning. Do not overcrowd the pan or you’ll have difficulty keeping up with flipping the chiacchiere before they become too dark! They must be a light golden color.
Let them cool and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Tips and suggestions:
The dough dries out fairly quickly so be sure to keep it covered at all times, whether it be the unrolled dough, sheets of rolled dough or the cut strips of chiacchiere.
Chiacchiere can be made using various types of liqueur such as grappa, brandy, marsala or even white wine. In Sicily, marsala is commonly used, but since I did not have any on hand I used grappa.
Chiacchiere fry very quickly and must be flipped to brown the opposite side. Fry a few at a time and do not overcrowd the pan for best results.
Since chiacchiere are dry, they keep well for a while in a well sealed container at room temperature. After 4 days sitting on my counter, mine are still crisp.
Chiacchiere can be frozen. Simply defrost and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Now you’re ready to begin your Carnevale celebration by enjoying Chiacchiere and coffee as you chit chat with friends and family! Let me know how your chiacchiere turn out by tagging me with your lovely photos on Facebook or Instagram with #mangiabedda or @mangiabedda. Don’t forget to share the recipe on Pinterest as well! Happy Carnevale to all!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 large eggs
- 5-6 tbsp grappa (marsala, brandy or white wine may be used)
- 1 lemon zested
- vegetable oil, for frying
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- In a large bowl or directly on your work surface combine flour, sugar and baking powder.
- Cut in cubed butter using your fingers or a pastry cutter until evenly distributed throughout the flour mixture.
- Make a well in the center and add eggs, grappa and lemon zest. Use a fork to gently beat the eggs and begin incorporating the flour into the egg mixture to make a dough.
- Transfer the mixture onto a clean surface and knead until a dough is formed. This will take about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
- After an hour, divide the dough in 4 pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, keep the remaining dough covered to prevent from drying out.
- Flatten a piece of dough with the palm of your hands and roll through the pasta roller set at the widest setting. Roll a few times, folding the dough over lengthwise until it comes out smooth.
- Continue rolling, reducing the width of the rollers until you have reached the second to last setting. Cover the sheet of dough to prevent from drying and roll the remaining pieces of dough.
- Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut the dough into strips. Place on a sheet pan and cover with a clean dish towel to keep them from drying out.
- Fill a wide, deep heavy bottomed sauce pan with 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil.
- When the oil is hot, place a few strips of dough in the pan. When one side is browned flip over to brown the opposite side. This will take a few seconds, therefore do not overcrowd the pan. Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet to cool.
- Once cooled, dust with powdered sugar and serve.
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