Home Italy Revisited Bookshelf Plays About Mary Melfi Contact Us
Caragnoli (Pin wheel Molisani sweet fritters topped with honey and crushed walnuts)
Originated from: Ribabottoni, Molise
Occasion: Christmas
Contributed by: Ronald Ciarlo (his grandmother's recipe, Mrs. Rose Ciarlo)

Printer Friendly Version


For pastry dough
3 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Flour as needed (about 2 cups to 2 1/4 cups)

For deep frying
about 2 cups vegetable oil

For topping
about 2 cups honey
about 1 cup crushed walnuts (preferably "Diamond Walnuts")


o Beat eggs.

o Add sugar and mix well.

o Add oil.

o Mix baking powder and flour.

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.

o Remove one of the dough-balls out of its container and form a log (Kind of like a biscotti log). With a sharp knife cut a small piece of dough (about 2 inches wide). Flour the piece of dough, and pass it through a pasta machine. The resulting pastry panel (or sheet) should be a bit thinner than a lasagna noodle (The second to last number on the pasta machine should result in the right thickness -- about an 1/8 of an inch thick). Ideally, the panel should measure about 28 inches long.

o Using a serrated roller pastry cutter cut the pastry panel into strips about 1 3/4 inch wide x 26 inches long.

o To make the pin wheel take a strip of dough and fold it over, then every inch or so pinch the two sides together so that there is an opening or cup between every pinch (One can place one's finger in the fold and then pinch on the side of the finger). When the strip of dough has been pinched and cups have been formed curl the dough onto itself, round and round, so that it looks like a pin wheel (or rose). To retain this shape parts of the strips have to be pinched together.

o Place the pin-wheel-shaped caragnole cookie on a flat surface.

o Repeat steps 3,4, 5 and 6 for each piece of dough you cut. It's best to cut one panel at a time and turn that panel into caragnole as soon as possible as the dough hardens very quickly when exposed to the air and this interferes with the shaping of the fritter.

o When all the the pin wheels are completed, fry them in hot vegetable oil until they are golden (Avoid browning them as they will taste burnt).

o Place the fried pin wheels directly on kitchen paper towels so that the excess oil is usurped [Due to the shape of the fritter, if they are not placed directly on kitchen paper, a lot of oil will remain in the fritters, making them rather soggy.]. Cool.

o To glaze the pin wheels with honey heat two to three cups of honey in a pan until it bubbles and then dip the tops of the rose wheels one by one into the honey (Takes only a few seconds for the rose wheels to be coated with honey) and then place the honeyed pin wheel onto a prepared tray (Some cooks grease the tray so that this will prevent them from sticking to the surface). In any case it's best to place the caragnoli in a large tray, so that they will avoid sticking together. (P.S. Nowadays some North American cooks drizzle the honey on the fritters rather than dip them in a hot pot of honey, while others brush the fritters with honey.)

o Cool for about 10 minutes (If the caragnoli are not cooled the walnuts will melt).

o Dust with crushed walnuts.

o Keep in fridge until needed.

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


Ronald Ciarlo recalls that his paternal grandmother made caragnoli. He didn't know the exact proportions for the dough (The one used in this entry comes from the Casacalenda branch of the Melfi family), but he did note that his grandmother always topped the fritter with honey and crushed walnuts. His grandmother and her husband were from Ripabottoni, Molise; they immigrated to the United States and lived in Johnston, Rhode Island. Photo: Mary Melfi.

Back to main list