Home Italy Revisited Bookshelf Plays About Mary Melfi Contact Us
Scarulelle (Molisani caragnoli-style fried rose wheels, without yeast, Christmas fritters)
Originated from: Santa Croce di Magliano, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Christmas holidays
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her brother-in-law's recipe)

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
Vegetable oil

For topping
2 to 3 cups of honey
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup icing sugar for dusting

* Uses the same recipe as Casacalenda's caragnole (Rose wheels, Version II)


1. In a mixing bowl beat eggs.

2. Add sugar and mix well.

3. Add oil.

4. Mix flour and baking powder [P.S. this style of fritter needs a lot less baking powder than the others, because the baking powder will puff up the dough, and this will cause the fritter to lose its delicate shape.]

5. Add the flour slowly to the egg, sugar and oil mixture and work into a soft dough [The dough should be soft enough so that the pastry strips will later stick together, but hard enough that the dough can pass through a pasta maker]. If the dough is too soft, add a touch more flour; if it's too hard add a touch more oil. Knead (by hand) for a few minutes.

6. 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. Nowadays, most cooks, concerned over the eggs spoiling, either let the dough only rest for half an hour at room temperature, or let it rest for longer periods of time in the fridge. Nonetheless, prior to World War II, the dough rested at room temperature for long periods of time (perhaps even overnight). Of course, back then most homes were rather cold in the winter, so perhaps that is why dough could be kept at room temperature without any adverse effect.]

7. 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.

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

9. To make the rose 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 rose. To retain this shape parts of the strips have to be pinched together.

10. Place the rose-wheel-shaped scarulelle cookie on a flat surface.

11. 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 sxarulelle as soon as possible as the dough hardens very quickly when exposed to the air and this interferes with the shaping of the fritter.

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

13. Place the fried rose 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.

14. To glaze the rose 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 rose 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 scarulelle in a large tray, so that they will avoid sticking together.

15. Alternatively, one can avoid step No. 10 and simply dust the scarulelle with icing sugar after they have been fried and cooled.

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


Tony Alfieri, Mary Melfi's brother-in-law, notes that in his home town of Santa Croce di Magliano what was known as a "caragnole" in Casacalenda and in some other parts of Molise was there known as a "scarulelle." In Santa Croce di Magliano the word "caragnole" also referred to a fritter, but the shape of that fritter was very different from the "rose-shaped wheels" or "rosettes" that were made in Casacalenda. In Santa Corce di Magliano a "caragnole" looked a bit like a pretzel, but as the fritter was made by twisting the dough around a wooden stick, the end result was much more complicated than a pretzel. Possibly, this style of fritter was more similar to Calabria's "scaliddre" than they were to Casacalenda's "caragnole." In any case when those from Santa Croce di Magliano arrived in Canada in the late 1950s they soon learned that those from other areas of Molise referred to "scarulelle" as "caragnole" and so quite a few individuals adopted the use of the word (Those from Casacalenda out-numbered those from Santa Croce by a long shot). Because Santa Croce's original "caragnole" were difficult to make, few second generation Italians from this town bothered to make them. Nowadays Molise's tourist brochure generally refer to the fritters made in this region as "caragnole" and all the other names that were once used in the very small mountain villages are more or less forgotten.... Photo: Mary Melfi.

Back to main list