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Cicerchiata (Fried dough balls, dipped in honey, without yeast, Christmas fritters)
Originated from: Guardialfiera, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Christmas holidays and New Year's
Contributed by: Rita Palazzo (her mother's recipe)

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3 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Flour as needed (about 3 cups)

Vegetable oil for deep frying*
2 cups of honey for coating

* Prior to World War II olive oil was used for deep frying in Italy, but 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 ingredients and work into a fine dough (feels like a lasagna dough).

Divide the dough in two portions and shape into balls. Wrap them with plastic wrap and place them in a container. Cover with a blanket and let the dough rest for 4 to 6 hours.

Cut the portions into smaller pieces and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick, either with a rolling pin or using a pasta machine. Cut strips of dough (about an inch and a half long and half an inch wide) and then shape into a ball about half an inch in circumference.

When the balls are completed, deep fry.

Heat honey in a pan and then add the balls of fried dough to the pan; stir until they coated with honey. Remove from pan and place the honey-coated balls of dough on a decorative platter that has been greased with oil or butter (The grease is used to help avoid the surface of the platter from sticking to the fritters). Quickly combine the balls to form small chunks (The chunks have to be made quickly as the fritters will not stick together if the temperature is not hot enough -- however, if the temperature is too hot one can run the risk of burning one's fingers, so a moderate warm temperature is best).

Keep in the fridge until needed.

Serve at room temperature.


The cicerchiata in the photo attached to this entry were made by Mary Melfi following Rita Palazzo's recipe (Though if the directions had been followed more faithfully the cicerchiata would have been much smaller in size!). Photo: Mary Melfi.

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