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Chiacchiere (Rectangular fried pastry dough strips, Carnival fritters)
Originated from: Lombardy and Parma
Occasion: Carnival
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 tablespoon dry white wine or grappa
1/4 cup melted butter

Vegetable oil for frying *
Confectioner's sugar [icing sugar] for dusting

* Prior to World War II olive oil was generally used for deep frying in Southern Italy, though lard was also sometimes used. Nowadays most North Americans of Italian origin use all-purpose vegetable oil; however, most cooks, Italian or otherwise, agree that canola oil or peanut oil is best for frying as these oils don't leave an aftertaste.


Mix the flour, sugar and salt.

Using an electric mixer beat eggs, vanilla, wine (or grappa) and melted butter (the butter should be cool or it will start cooking the eggs and you don't want that to happen).

Mix the dry ingredients with the liquid mixture, and knead into a fine bread-like dough.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for an hour or two.

Knead the rested dough a little more, and then shape it into a roll.

Cut pieces of the dough-roll and pass the pieces through a pasta maker (If you dust some flour on the pieces they'll be a lot easier to pass through the pasta machine, especially if the dough is soft and sticky). The thickness of the resulting "noodles "should be about 1/8 inch or thinner depending on one's preference.

Using a serrated pastry wheel and a 12" ruler (The ruler makes it easier to cut the dough) cut rectangular pieces -- 4" X 2" or 4" X 3."

Make one or two vertical cuts on each rectangular piece of "noodle" with the serrated pastry wheel.

Heat oil and fry the pieces of dough (the oil should be hot, but not too hot or the pieces will get brown too fast and they'll taste burnt). The chiacchiere are ready when they're golden with a touch of brown, but not too much brown as then they'll not taste good.

Let the "chiacchiere" drain on kitchen paper towels (Don't want too much oil on them!).


Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.


In the old days "chiacchiere" were served around Carnival time but nowadays they are served around Christmas, Easter -- whenever the mood strikes. In some areas of Italy these are known as "frappe," "crostoli" or "bugie." Chiacchiere" come in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes they come in big rectangular shapes, almost square-like, and sometimes the strips of dough are thin and long. Occasionally, the thin long pieces of dough are folded together and then they look like bows, in which case they look like Molise's "caragnelle" but, in fact, they don't taste at all like them. Of all the Italian fritters I've tried to date these are the easiest and the best-tasting (They're even better than my mother's "caragnelle"!). "Chiacchiere" use a fair amount of sugar in the dough, plus they use butter and vanilla, so they come closer to what North Americans think of as puff pastry rather than the average fritter. Photo: Mary Melfi

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