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chestnut calcioni
Mary's Chestnut Caveciuni II (sweet fritters using boiled chestnuts, almonds, honey, cocoa, cinnamon and orange zest)
Originated from: Molise, Italy
Occasion: Christmas and St. Joseph's Day
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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For pastry caveciuni dough*
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For caveciuni filling
1 cup chestnut puree (about 1 pound fresh chestnuts)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of a small orange

Vegetable oil for deep frying

For topping
Icing sugar

*Spellings for this fritter vary from town to town in Molise, depending on the local dialect. The recipe can be known as calcione, cacioni, caciu, calcioni, caveciune, caveciuni, cauciune, cauciuni, cauciun', calciume, calciumi, calciune, calciuni, calciuni, caucione, caucioni, caucine, caucini, calzangie, cavazune and cavazuni and/or who knows what else? However, the official spelling for this style of Molisani treat on the world-wide web is (Well, seems to be): "Calcione" (singular form) and "calcioni" (plural form). In other parts of Italy this style of fritter is sometimes known as "ravioli di San Giuseppe" as well as "ravioli dolce," "sweet ravioli."


To make the pastry dough mix the dry ingredients with the wet ones. Work into a soft malleable dough (If the dough is too hard, add a touch more water, if it's too soft, add a touch more flour).

Divide into two portions.

Shape the pastry dough into two balls, wrap the pastry dough balls with clear plastic wrap.

Let the dough rest for about 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile score about 1 pound of chestnuts (Scoring is important as if you don't do it, it will be impossible to get the shells off after the chestnuts are boiled).

Bring a pot of water to boil and put in the chestnuts.

Boil the chestnuts for about 20 minutes and then check one to see if it is soft inside. If the chestnut center is soft, remove from heat, and drain off the water.

Peel the chestnuts, discard the shells as well as any chestnuts that are not in good condition.

Put the shelled chestnuts through a sieve (The end result should look a bit like mashed potatoes).

Mix the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder and coarsely chopped roasted almonds together.

Add the mixture to the chestnut puree.

Mix in the vanilla and finely grated orange zest to the chestnut puree.

Roll out a portion of the pastry dough to about 1/8 of an inch (The dough dries out quickly; it's best to keep the dough one is not using in plastic wrap as this will help keep it fresh and easy to handle.).

Using a cookie cutter cut out circles about 3 inches in diameter.

Place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of each circle.

Fold it over and seal the edges together.

Continue until all the dough is processed.

Heat up the oil in a large pan and deep-fry two or three calciuni at a time until golden brown.

Remove with a perforated spoon and drain on absorbent paper.


Serve as soon as possible (The fresher the better).

Before serving sprinkle with icing sugar.


Here is yet another recipe I came up with for calciuni. I keep trying out different versions -- often one is just as good as another, but I like experimenting, so I keep changing the ingredients and proportions. Personally, I prefer calciuni made with canned chickpeas, not because they taste better than those made with chestnuts, but simply because they are cheaper to make. Honestly, it's impossible to distinguish between calciuni made with chickpea puree and those with chestnut puree. What gives the calciuni their distinctive flavor is the cocoa and honey. As with all home cooking one can adjust the flavoring to suit one's own needs. Comments and photo: Mary Melfi.

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