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Caveciuni di ceci
Mary's Caveciuni di Ceci (Sweet fritters using canned chickpeas, walnuts, almonds, sugar, cocoa and orange zest)
Originated from: Molise
Occasion: Feast Day of St. Joseph & Christmas
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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For the pastry dough
4 3/4 cups flour
4 extra large eggs
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons sugar

For the filling
1 can 19 oz. chickpeas (about 2 cups)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons [Fry's Premium] cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups coarsely ground walnuts
1/2 cup coarsely ground roasted almonds with skin
Finely grated zest of 1 orange, mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar

Vegetable oil for deep frying

For dusting (optional)
Icing sugar


Making the dough*

Work pastry ingredients into a malleable dough.

Divide the dough into two portions.

Form two balls and wrap them with clear plastic wrap.

Place them in bowls.

Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 1/2 an hour.

Making the filling*

Using a strainer, rinse the canned chickpeas under cold water.

Drain well, removing any excess water.

Mash the chickpeas in an electric food processor or by hand.

Coarsely ground the almonds.

Coarsely ground the roasted almonds.

Mix the mashed chickpeas, the sugar, cocoa powder, coarsely ground walnuts, roasted almonds and vanilla extract in a food processor or by hand.

Stir in the orange zest using a wooden spoon.

Making the Caveciuni

Shape the ball of dough into a cylinder.

Cut a chunk of dough about 2 inches.

Sprinkle the dough with flour, and flatten it a bit.

Using a pasta dough maker, roll out the dough, to the second last number of the machine (Alternatively one can use a rolling pin, and roll out the entire ball of dough to about 1/8 of an inch thick.).

Cut the rolled-out dough into 4 inch rounds using an espresso cup saucer as a guide or by using a 4 inch cookie cutter.

Add about 2 teaspoons of filling to the center of each 4 inch round.

Fold, and seal the edges of the crescent-shaped caveciuni with a fork.

Place the caveciuni on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Repeat the process until all the material is used (N.B. The fresher the dough, the easier it is to seal the pastries; if the dough doesn't stick together, one can wet the inner edges of the pastry rounds with a touch of water.).

Heat up the vegetable oil in a deep large pan (The larger the pan, the less likely the oil will splatter, this will make the process safer, unfortunately, a larger pan will require a larger amount of oil, making it more expensive.)

When the vegetable oil is very hot, turn down the heat just a little, and then place a few caveciuni at a time in the oil; allow them to fry until they have a golden color and are nicely cooked.

Remove with a slotted spoon.

Repeat the process until all the caveciuni are fried.


Before serving (The fresher the better) sprinkle some icing sugar (optional).

*If there is left-over dough or left-over filling, or if one is just too tired to do all the caveciuni (They are rather labor-intensive to make) one can just roll out the dough and put it in a thin-sized pie pan. And then, if one has left-over filling, one can add 1 egg for every cup of filling leftover, mix the egg in, and then put this chocolate nut mixture in the pastry-lined pie pan (The chocolate nut filling shouldn't be more than 1/2 inch high, as it is rather heavy, and it tastes best in small quantities.). Alternatively, if one only has the chocolate nut filling leftover and no dough, one can make chocolate nut squares also by adding 1 egg for each cup of filling leftover. Pour the chocolate nut mixture in a baking pan that has been greased or lined with parchment paper. The filling should be spread out evenly, and it shouldn't be higher than 1/2 an inch high as the end result is rather filling, and it tastes best in small amounts. Bake in a moderate oven until ready (about 1/2 hour). Cool. Sprinkle with icing sugar (optional).


I adapted this traditional Molisani recipe using ingredients I myself have taking a liking to. Preferring sugar to honey, and preferring cocoa to cinnamon, this is my personal variation on the old recipe. Also, loving the flavor of orange, and because orange zest is often added to sweet fritters in Southern Italy, I incorporated it to my mixture. My variation on this old festive stand-by might not be for everyone, but those who tried my caveciuni found them exceptionally pleasant. These sweet Italian fritters served on the Feast Day of Saint Joseph as well as during the Christmas season are easy to do and relatively cheap to make. Spellings for this style of festive sweet differ widely, they include: calcione, cacioni, caciu, Calcioni, caveciune, caveciuni, cauciune, cauciuni, cauciun', calciume, calciumi, calciune, calciuni, calciuni, caucione, caucioni, caucine, caucini, cavazune and cavazuni.... Photo and personal notes: Mary Melfi.

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