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Calciuni del Molise (Sweet Christmas fritters filled with chestnuts and almonds, flavored with chocolate, honey and rum)
Originated from: Molise, Italy
Occasion: Christmas holidays
Contributed by: Adapted from "Italian Regional Cooking" by Ada Boni (1969)

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For pastry dough
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon white wine
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For filling
1/2 pound chestnuts, boiled and put through a sieve
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate, grated
1 teaspoon rum
1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1 tablespoon candied citron, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil for deep frying

For topping
about 1/2 cup icing sugar
about 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon


For pastry dough

Mix pastry dough dry ingredients with wet ones and work into a firm dough.

Knead vigorously until smooth.

Divide into two portions; wrap each portion with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Allow the dough to rest for about half an hour.

For the filling

Score the chestnuts (Making silts in the chestnuts will facilitate in removing their peel).

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Boil the chestnuts for about 15 minutes (Before removing from heat, check to see if the chestnuts are soft in the center).

Drain, and then peel the chestnuts.

Put the chestnuts through a sieve or use a blender (Should look like mashed potatoes).

In a clean bowl mix the sieved chestnuts with the honey.

Add the flavorings and blend thoroughly (Check to see if the flavoring is to one's liking and make the needed adjustments). Keep aside.

Using a rolling pin or a pasta maker roll out the first portion of dough to about 1/8 thick.

Cut out circles about 3 inches in diameter.

Put about 2 teaspoons of the filling on each circle, fold it over and seal the edges with a fork or one's fingertips.

Deep fry a few calciuni at a time until a deep golden color.

Remove from the pan with a perforated spoon and drain on paper towels.

Process the second portion of dough (Dividing the dough into two portions keeps it fresh, making it easier to handle.).

Repeat all the steps.


Place the calciuni on a decorative platter.

Prior to serving, sprinkle with a little icing sugar, and ground cinnamon.


The recipe in this entry was adapted from Ada Boni's "Italian Regional Cooking" (New York, Dutton: 1969). The book was originally published in Italian and became an instant classic. It is one of the few cookbooks published prior to 1970 that makes specific reference to Molisani cookery. The reason for this is simple -- Molise was part of Abruzzo; it did not become an independent region until 1963. As Molise is the smallest region in Italy, with a population less than half a million, very few food writers paid it much attention. That's changing, of course, as more and more individuals interested in the culinary arts seek out the traditions of various parts of Italy, including the least known ones. In any case, the recipe in Ada Boni's wonderful cookbook sounds very authentic. Perhaps a bit too authentic in the sense that it uses very little honey (4 teaspoons). Prior to World War II sugar and honey was very expensive so home cooks didn't use much of it. Ada Boni's recipe doesn't use very much either, I increased the amounts. Growing up in the 1960s members of my family, which are from Molise, all made similar calciuni and they used more honey, as well as adding sugar -- but, this might have been because the members of my family all came to Canada, and here the sweet stuff was a lot cheaper. In Ada Boni's original recipe bitter chocolate is used rather than semi-sweet chocolate. If one does this, one will get a fritter that is savory rather than sweet. This might suit some people's taste, but not all. Also, no one I know adds rum or candied citron to this fritter but maybe that's because all those I know were born in the Molise countryside rather than in Molise's capital city, Campobasso. It's possible that those who originated from this urban center had access to rum and candied citron, so might have used it and may still be using it. Most recipes have many variations and this one is no exception..... Personal comments and photo: Mary Melfi.

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