No Italian Carnevale would be perfect without a tray (or two) of Chiacchiere! Together with Lasagna, these two dishes are typically eaten in Naples, during Carnival festivities... That's why, in keeping with my family's traditions, I have decided to make them and add them on DOLCE's Sweet menù during these months.
Because I love to make them (and eat them as well!!), I want to share my recipe with you.
The recipe itself is actually quite simple, you just need to have a little bit of patience (but that's not something new when it comes to baking).
The dough strongly resembles the one for making struffoli, but it is rolled out flat like pasta (I still like to do it by hand with my rolling pin) and cut into ribbons or squares or other shapes, as you prefer. Even with so many similar ingredients, the taste, shape and texture are completely different - an example of the Italian talent for creating incredible variety out of a limited palette.
These Italian "Carnival fritters" have (as usual) religious roots.
You may already know that Lent is the period, in many Christian denominations, that covers almost six weeks before Easter Sunday. Do you think it's a coincidence that these fritters are made on the eve of Ash Wednesday, the day before Lent began? Of course not!!
The day before Lent is the last day of “indulgence” before a 40 days fast. Since all “indulgent” foods are forbidden during the Lenten period, it would make sense to have one rich meal on the eve - and this would definitely include the dessert!
Also, if you've been to Italy you might have seen them in pastry shops with different names. That's because we call them in many ways, depending on the regions of Italy they are from. So whether you are talking about "crostoli" (from the region of Emilia Romagna), "sfrappe" (from the region of Marche), "frappe" (from the region of Lazio), "cenci" (from the region of Tuscany) or "chiacchiere" (from the region of Campania) - to name a few - you are referring to a sweet dough which has been rolled out, cut-up (left as flat strips or twirled) and then deep fried.
Chiacchiere are usually accompanied by a chocolate sauce (we cannot help but have a sweet tooth) called "sanguinaccio". The authentic original sanguinaccio was made with pig's blood - hence the name ("sangue" in Italian means "blood") but nowadays this is illegal.
Chiacchiere are not tooooo sweet but they are surprisingly addictive... So make lots!
Ingredients (serve 6 persons - unless you are feeling a tad-over indulgent, in which case the recipe will serve less):
250 gr flour
50 gr caster sugar
2 eggs (1 whole - 1 egg yolk)
25 gr butter (soft)
25 ml white wine
1 lemon (zest grated)
25 ml Cognac/Grappa
vanilla extract (to taste)
salt (a pinch)
500 ml groundnut oil (to fry)
icing sugar (to decorate)
Place the flour on the working surface and make a well.
Add the softened butter in the center, the sugar, the beaten eggs, the cognac/grappa, the white wine, the lemon zest, the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.
Knead everything with your hands and work for a long time until a smooth and elastic mixture is obtained. The dough must be dry, soft but dry.
Form a ball, cover it with a cloth and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes in a cool and dry place.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, put a lot of flour on the table so that the dough does not stick to the table and make a very thin sheet, as much thiner as you can (so once fried it remains crispy and crunchy).
Cut with a pastry wheel crimper into rectangles or strips of dough, according to the preferred shape (the size is up to you).
Fry the frappe in abundant very hot groundnut oil (not higher than 170-180 C), once the oil is heated the fire should not be too high otherwise it burns and darken the chiacchiere too much.
While frying, turn the frappe once or twice and remove them as soon as they become golden brown using a metal slotted spoon.
Place them onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess fats.
Allow to cool, then dust with icing sugar.
Keep them in a tight container and use within 2-3 days.
If you are willing to make your tray of chiacchiere - like a real Italian grandma would do, follow this recipe and let me know how it goes!! If you're to lazy instead... Order your box of chiacchiere here!!
Because you can't buy happiness, but you can buy a cake (or chiacchiere, in this case)... And it's kinda the same thing!