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Calcioni, Caveciuni, Calciuni, Cauciuni (Italian sweet fritters, chickpea cookies with walnuts, honey and raisins)
Originated from: Molise, Italy
Occasion: Christmas and La Festa di San Giuseppe
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (a relative's recipe)

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

For the Pastry Dough (Enough for about 30)
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour (or "as much as is needed")
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling (Enough for about 30 Calcioni)
1 can of chickpeas (19 oz.)
1 1/2 cups ground walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

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

*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 Italy this 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.


Mix the pastry dough ingredients and work into a fine dough (Add more flour if the dough is too soft, add a touch more water if it's too hard).

Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in clear plastic.

Let the dough rest at room temperature while the filling is being made (about 1/2 an hour to an hour).

Place the chick peas in a pan and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes in their own juice.

After the chick peas are cooked, drain them, and then put them in a blender or food mill until smooth.

Combine the mashed-up chick peas, ground walnuts, honey, sugar, raisins, and cinnamon. 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 a touch bigger).

Put about a teaspoon and a half of filling in the center of each square and then fold over the dough.

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 bit of water).

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


Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.


While this recipe is known as "cauciuni" [sometimes spelled as "calcioni" or "calciumi" or "calcioni"] in Molise, it is part of the larger family of Italian sweets known as "calzoni." In some areas of the South this recipe might also come up as "cavazune" (also spelled "cavezune"). From studying recipes on the world-wide web I believe this sweetened chick pea fried pastry pocket or sweet fritter might also be known as: "Chick Pea Ravioli," "Ravioli di San Giuseppe," "Zeppole di San Giuseppe," "Sfinci di San Giuseppe and "Bigne di San Giuseppe." While the recipes might all be similar the names are not. So I guess there is no point trying to figure out what's what as every every little town in every little province may or may not have the same name for the same recipe. In fact the same name in different regions might not mean it's the same recipe -- riavoli di San Giuseppe might be one thing in one area, and completely different in another area. So take every name of any recipe with a grain of salt. If you or your parents were born in Italy (and grew up there!) then you might have access to the "real" name of a certain recipe that pops out -- but, of course, it's only the "real" name of your home town and no others! That's Italy for you -- thousands of little countries within one big peninsula, all with their own languages, customs, traditions and affectations. There are many variations on the "calzoni" recipes. However, all of the recipes include chick peas and honey in the filling (though not all include walnuts). Also, all the recipes call for the "calzoni" to be fried. Prior to World War II very few people living in the Southern Italian countryside had ovens in their homes (Commercial wood-burning communal ovens were then used for the baking of bread, cakes and cookies). So that's why most of the traditional sweets that come from the South are fried. The use of the communal oven incurred more cost than cooking the sweets in a frying pan on a slow fire (Though even that had its difficulties as fire wood was hard to come by). In any case the world wide web has many recipes for "calzoni" and most use a lot more sugar and honey than the ones first-generation Italians possibly did. Sugar and honey were expensive, and well everyone knows the rest.... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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