Home Italy Revisited Bookshelf Plays About Mary Melfi Contact Us
Calabrian Calabrese Cannariculi fried rolled dough
Cannariculi (Calabrese Christmas rolled fritters, using flour, Marsala wine, eggs and sugar ; brushed with honey)
Originated from: Calabria, Italy
Occasion: Christmas holidays and Carnival
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

Printer Friendly Version


For pastry dough (Makes about 48 cannariculi)
4 cups flour
1 cup Marsala wine*
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

*Dry sherry or a sweet white wine can be substituted for Marsala wine

For deep frying
Vegetable Oil**

For coating
about 1 cup honey

** 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 professional cooks, Italian or otherwise, agree that peanut oil is best for frying as this oil doesn't leave an aftertaste. However those adverse to peanuts, can opt for canola oil as this too is good for frying.


o In a bowl mix salt, sugar and flour together.

o Using an electric blender, mix eggs and wine together.

o Combine dry ingredients with wet ones and mix well until thoroughly blended.

o Knead the dough until it is smooth and glossy -- about 3 minutes. .

o Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into two portions.

o Shape portions into balls, and then wrap them in plastic wrap.

o Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about half an hour.

o After the dough has rested (This will make the dough more malleable) remove the plastic wrap from one portion, and roll it out to about 1/8 inch thickness. One can either use a rolling pin, or one can use a pasta maker (Using a pasta maker will facilitate the process, and improve the changes of success.).

o Let the second portion of dough rest in its container, while the first half is being processed, as it's easiest to work with a fresh dough. The longer the dough air-dries the harder it will be to cut and shape.

o On a floured wooden board, using a 2 inch cookie cutter cut out squares of dough. One can either cut out the squares with a sharp knife, or use a serrated pastry cutter.

o Sprinkle flour on a thin tube the size of a pencil (Or if one is not available, a pencil can be used instead).

o Place the floured tube (or floured pencil) on one of the squares, and starting at one of the corners, roll out on the diagonal to form a pastry roll (The end result should look like a miniature cannoli pastry tube).

o Pinch the last corner of the square to the dough rolled around the tube (or pencil).

o Remove the tube (or pencil) from the rolled out dough.

o Flour the tube (or pencil) again and continue making the cannariculi until the first portion of dough is processed.

o Repeat the steps for the second portion of dough.

o Heat oil for deep frying.

o Fry small batches of cannariculi at a time, turning them over to get an even color, until they are golden (If they brown too much, they'll taste burnt). Don't be surprised if a few cannariculi come apart. They shouldn't, but sometimes they do, in which case they are still good enough to eat, though not perhaps good enough for "demanding" guests. In any case, once the dough has fried and is even in color, remove with a slotted spoon.

o Place the cannariculi on a container, and then far from the heating element (to avoid a fire), place them on another container that is lined with kitchen paper towels to usurp excess oil.

o Let the fried pastries cool for about a quarter of an hour.

o Place the honey in a medium-sized pan and heat at low temperature (This thins out the honey and makes it easier to spread on the cannariculi).

o One can either place one or two cannariculi at a time in the pan and coat the entire cookie in honey (Many first-generation Italians do this), or one can dip the top half of the cannariculi in the warmed-up honey. The third alternative is to drizzle the warmed up honey on the cannariculi that are placed on a large container, noting that a lot of the honey will drip onto the container (So might look a bit messy). A fourth alternative is to use a silicon pastry brush and brush the cannariculi with the warmed up honey (A lot less honey is used if one uses this fourth alternative).

o Let the honey-coated cannariculi rest for about half an hour, then transfer them to the actual serving platter that has been lightly greased or oiled (This prevents them from sticking) or one can line the platter with parchment paper that has been lightly oiled). Do not place too many cannariculi on top of each other as they might get stuck together.

o Keep in the fridge until needed.

o Remove from the fridge a half an hour before serving to guests (The fritters taste best at room temperature, and they also test best the same day they are made.).


Cannariculi are traditional fritters made for the Christmas and/or Carnival holidays in Calabria but they also appear in other regions of Italy, though their recipes differ somewhat. On the the internet one recipe is repeated in English over and over and over again. Not only are the ingredients the same ["4 cups flour, 1 cup Marsala wine, 2 large eggs, 4 tsp sugar, 1 pinch salt, oil for deep-frying and honey"], but so is the wording. Obviously, this is a very popular version of "cannariculi." For some odd reason the recipe often pops up on sites which celebrate pagan holidays. In any case I made some slight modifications to the recipe, but on the whole I kept the ingredients as given. However, having made a lot of fritters in my time, I did change the directions, hopefully, they are clear enough.... From what I read, the name of the fritter, cannariculi, is derived from "canolo" (reed) -- either because it looks like a reed, or because cooks used to use a reed to roll up the pasta. In North America cannariculi are often referred to as a honey cookies.... Photo: Mary Melfi.

Back to main list