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Rosina's Caragnoli (Spiral-shaped Molisani Christmas Fritters, without yeast or baking powder, dipped in honey)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Campobasso
Occasion: Christmas
Contributed by: Mrs. Rosina Melfi (as told to her nieces, Mary Melfi, Pauline Fresco, and great niece, Carina)

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For Caragnoli Dough

For every 100 grams of flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For deep frying
About 2 to 3 cups vegetable oil

For glazing
about 2 cups honey


o Beat eggs.

o Add sugar and mix well.

o Add oil.

o Add flour slowly to the egg, sugar and oil mixture and work into a fine dough (resembles a lasagna dough).

o Divide the dough into two portions and shape them into balls. Wrap the dough-balls in clear plastic and place them in separate containers. Let the dough rest for 4 to 6 hours. [P.S. In the old days the dough was allowed to rest at room temperature -- of course, back then, the homes were rather cold, especially in the winter time, so letting the dough rest at room temperature did not result in any spoilage. Nowadays, many North American cooks concerned about spoilage, let the dough rest in the fridge.]

o Remove one of the dough-balls out of the container and with a sharp knife cut a small piece of dough (about two inches wide).

o Using a rolling pin roll out the dough so that it is about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick.

o Cut a part a piece of the dough, about 2 inches wide.

o Make taralli-style rope with the piece of dough about 20 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.

o Lightly flour a wooden rod (like the end of a wooden ladle) and wrap the rope of dough around it, forming spirals.

o Remove the rope of dough from the rod making sure that the spiral shape is retained.

o Pinch the ends of the spiral together, forming a circle.

o Make two very thin taralli-style ropes (about 1/8 of an inch thick and long enough so that they can be attached to the two sides of the spiral-shaped caragnole).

o Attach one of the thin ropes to bottom of the spiral-shaped caragnole, attach the other one to the top of the spiral-shaped caragnole.

o Press a gnocchi board on the spiral-shaped caragnole, so that indentations are made on the dough.

o Repeat the steps until all the caragnoli are made.

o When all the spiral-shaped caragnoli have been made, heat up the oil. To make sure the oil is the right temperature put a piece of fresh bread in it, if the oil sizzles, and the bread cooks evenly, then it's o.k. to start frying the fritters.

o Fry one caragnole at a time until golden. This style of fritter breaks up easily, and burns easily as well, so one needs to keep a watchful eye.

o Place the fried caragnoli directly on kitchen paper towels so the excess oil is usurped.

o Cool.

o To glaze the caragnoli with honey, heat two to three cups of honey in a pan until it bubbles and then dip the caragnole one by one into the honey (Takes only a few seconds for the caragnoli to be coated with honey). P.S. Mrs. Rosina Melfi notes that while some North Americans now drizzle honey on the caragnoli rather than dip them in a pot filled with warmed-up honey this method will Not reproduce the traditional good-tasting flavor.

o Place the honeyed-glazed caragnoli onto the prepared tray (Some cooks grease the prepared tray so that the caragnoli will not stick to the surface).

o Much of the honey from the caragnoli will run to the bottom of the tray (Once the caragnoli are a bit cooled the honey can be scrapped off, and re-used.) The caragnoli are very sticky and it's best to keep them separated. Later once they are cooled, one can pile a few on top of each other, but they do break very easily, so it's best to present them in a large tray.

o Serve at room temperature (the fresher the better!).


This style of caragnoli is very difficult to do. Nonetheless, my aunt, Zia Rosina, insists that this is the true "traditional" form of caragnoli that was done in the town of Casacalenda prior to World War II. I say insist because my mother argues that this spiral-shaped form is not necessarily the "traditional" form. My mother insists that when she was living in Casacalenda her mother-in-law made rose-shaped caragnoli and so this style of caragnoli was the "traditional form". My aunt, however, states that her mother made the spiral-shaped form of caragnoli when she was a little girl so that she believes this pre-dates the newer "rose-shaped" caragnoli which may have become popular in Casacalenda in the 1950s. Now, my mother's own mother, my maternal grandmother, Nonna Seppe, never made caragnoli when my mother was a little girl so my mother can't say for sure what style of fritter was popular in the 1930s. All she can be sure of is that her mother-in-law, my paternal grandmother, Nonna Assunta, made rose-shaped caragnoli in the 1950s. In any case my Zia Rosina remembers that the spiral-shaped caragnoli her own mother did in the 1930s were a sight to behold, and don't come close as to what she herself attempted to do (See photo). The reason the caragnole didn't come out just right was because: first of all, to demonstrate the design of the caragnoli her mother used to do, she used left-over taralli dough rather than the needed pastry dough, second of all, she did Not have enough dough to work with, and thirdly, to make spiral-shaped caragnoli as they did in the 1930s one needs special equipment which is not available in Canada. When she was growing up home cooks used certain parts of looms with which to make the marks on the dough. The parts of the looms used were those parts that had broken and were no longer useful in the weaving process. Now, not everyone in town weaved their own linen and so not everyone in town had these parts at hand. However, many home cooks borrowed these parts from those who did have them, and so the fritters were made in many households for the holidays. According to my aunt the parts of the loom that were used had hundreds of thin-like strings (or wires?) on them so that the indentations made on the dough were very beautiful. As I myself have never seen a loom up close, I honestly have no idea what she is talking about. All I can be sure of is that my aunt, Zia Rosina, to make the indentations on the dough for the spiral-shaped caragnole shown in the photo in this entry, used a gnocchi board. As previously mentioned my aunt did say that the spiral-shaped caragnole she came up with, doesn't come close to the real thing -- it is, in fact, just an approximation of what her own mother did in Italy (P.S. The caragnole in the photo to the left is fried and glazed with honey; the one to the right is uncooked). My aunt also mentioned that in Italy even in better well-to-do households home cooks didn't make too many caragnoli as the ingredients were rather expensive, so most guests who dropped by at Christmas got to eat one caragnole and that was it..... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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