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Cauciuni, calcioni, Cavazune
Calcione, Calcioni, Caveciuni, Calciuni (Christmas sweet fritters, chickpea cookies, walnuts, honey and mosto cotto)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Campobasso, Molise
Occasion: Christmas, Carnival and San Giuseppe
Contributed by: Mrs. Rosina Melfi

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Calcione, Calcioni, caveciune, caveciuni, cauciune, cauciuni, cauciun', calciume, calciumi, calciune, calciune, calciuni, caucione, caucioni, caucine, caucini, calzangie, cavazune and cavazuni*

For Pastry Dough [Makes about 30 calcioni]
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour (or "As much as is needed")

For Pastry Filling [Makes about 30 calcioni]
1 can of chickpeas (19 oz.)
3 to 4 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup ground walnuts
Finely grated orange zest of 1 orange [about two tablespoons orange zest mixed with 2 tablespoons sugar]
2 teaspoons cinnamon mixed with 2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons mosto cotto

Vegetable oil for deep frying
An egg beaten with a half a cup of water [to moisten the dough if it hardens]

*Spellings for this fritter vary from town to town in Molise, depending on the local dialect. The recipe can be known as caveciune, cauciuni, calcioni, calciumi, calciuni, caucioni and/or who knows what else? However, the official spelling for this style of Molisan treat on the world-wide web is (Well, seems to be): "Calcione" (singular form) and "calcioni" (plural form). In other parts of this Italy this style of fritter is sometimes known as "ravioli di San Giuseppe" as well as "ravioli dolce," "sweet ravioli." N.B. In present-day Italy, "Calcioni Molisani" often refers to unsweetened ricotta-stuffed fritters rather than chickpea-stuffed sweet fritters. However, prior to World War II, most people living in the Molisan countryside thought of "calconi" as sweet fritters made with chickpeas. Those Italians (and their children) who immigrated to North America in the 1950s still think of "calcioni" as pastries stuffed with chickpeas rather than with ricotta and/or chestnuts.


To Make the Dough:

Mix the pastry dough ingredients and work into a fine dough, keeping in mind that it should not be too hard -- should resemble a "cavatelli" dough (If the dough is too soft add more flour, if it is too hard add a touch more oil).

Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in clear plastic. 3. Let the dough rest at room temperature for at least an hour or two.

To make the filling:

Place the chickpeas in a pan and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes in its own juice.

After the chickpeas are cooked, drain them, cool, and then put them in a food mill or blender until smooth (or use mash up them in a strainer if the chickpeas are too thick for it to work).

Combine the mashed-up chickpeas, ground walnuts, honey, cinnamon, musto cotto and finely grated zest of 1 small orange. Put aside.

Cut the rested dough into small portions.

Pass each portion through the pasta machine to the smallest number (keeping in mind that the faster one does this the better as the dough hardens, and then that makes it hard to make the cookies, as the dough will not stick together and/or it will crack).

Using a commercial or home-made cookie cutter cut out the rolled out dough to 3 inch squares or circles (or a touch bigger).

Put about a teaspoon or two of filling in the center of each square or circle and then fold over the dough (The squares will look like rectangles and the circles will look like half moons.).

Press the sides of each pastry pocket with a fork (If the dough has hardened one can moisten the edges of the pastry pocket dough with a beaten egg that has been mixed with a touch of water).

After all the cauciuni have been made, fry them in hot oil for about two and half minutes or until they are golden (Turn them over in the oil if necessary).


Serve at room temperature.


My aunt, Zia Rosina, who grew up in Casacalenda in the 1930s, told me the word "cauciuni" [sometimes spelled "calcioni" or "calciumi" or "calcioni"] is just another word for "cavazune" or "calzoni." All the three words mean "pants." The Italian dictionary translates the word, pants, as "calzoni" or "pantaloni" but in Molise most people use (or at least used prior to World War II) the word, "cavazune". Certainly that's the word my parents still use. My aunt, Zia Rosina, also told me the reason she believes these sweets are called "cauciuni" (pants) is because men's dress pants used to come with a lining. While the pants were (and sometimes still are) lined with special cloth, the "cauciuni" are lined with chickpea stuffing. In addition, Zia Rosina insisted that contrary to popular belief "cauciuni" were not only made for The Feast of Saint Joseph (La Festa di San Giuseppe) prior to World War II, but they were also made for the Christmas holidays, including New Year's and Epiphany. However, those people who were devotees of Saint Joseph might have preferred to make "cauciuni" or "cavazune" only on the saint's special day in order to make the celebrations more festive. In any case, some cooks made the "cauciuni" in the rectangular form, others presented them as half moons. My aunt herself prefers the half moon form as one can add more filling in them than in the rectangular form. When she was in Italy she always added "musto cotto" to the "cauciuni" filling as it was readily available ("Musto cotto" was made during the grape harvest along with wine and wine grape marmalade). In Canada she also uses it when she has some at hand (For "musto cotto" recipe see "Jams and Marmalades). Zia Rosina also mentioned that when she was a little girl her mother used a drinking glass to grind the walnuts and that worked as well as an electric grinder. One more thing -- these pastry pockets or sweet fritters are very tasty, however, they do require a great deal of time and effort. This is the type of recipe that should be done in a group -- not only is it more fun to do, but if one doesn't succeed, then it doesn't really matter all that much -- the real joy of cooking comes from the sharing of a common experience.... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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