Chiacchiere recipe is for sure the most famous Italian dessert for Carnival. Chiacchiere are delicious carnival fritters: thin crunchy rectangular sheets, first fried then sprinkled with icing sugar.
Making Chiacchiere recipe is quite easy: you start by mixing flour, eggs, butter, sugar, lemon zest and your favorite liqueur. From this dough you get the famous rectangles with zigzag edges that you have to fry and sprinkle with icing sugar. You cut these pasta strips into rectangles or rhombuses, often with an extra incision or two in the center, or into long strips that are sometimes tied with knots, like a bow tie, depending on local uses.
The name Chiacchiere comes from the Italian verb “chiacchierare”, that means “to chat” or“to gossip”, therefore Chiacchiere literally means chatters, gossips. The name Chiacchiere is mainly used in Lombardy and in Campania.
Probably this name refers to the women who gathered and spent entire afternoons preparing these fried cookies for the Carnival while chattering and gossiping. Another version attributes the birth of the name Chiacchiere to the Neapolitan cook Raffaele Esposito who served them during a banquet at the Savoy court and “le chiacchiere” referred to the gossips of the noblewomen!
Chiacchiere recipe has small variations, depending on the Italian region. For example, in Northern Italy the mixture is made with Grappa and butter, while in the South they prefer olive oil and Marsala. These delicious Italian treats are known by a wide range of names that depend on the region and local customs: “chiacchiere” in Lombardy and in Campania, “frappe” in Emilia, “cenci” in Tuscany, “bugie” in Piedmont, “crostoli” in Veneto and Trentino, just to name a few.
The History of Chiacchiere: a Very Ancient Custom
Historians trace the origins of Chiacchiere recipe back to Roman times, when they made a pasta called “frictilia” with flour and eggs then fried in pork fat. Usually, “frictilia” was served during the “Liberalia”, the celebrations that marked the end of winter, and during “Saturnalia”, a pagan festival held in March in honor of the Roman god Saturn. During these festivities, people wore masks to scare away evil spirits, indulging in every imaginable way, including large quantities of food.
After the spread of Christianity, the carnival was slightly attenuated, but the food and wine remained, above all because after the carnival there is Lent, a period of deprivation and penance in anticipation of Easter.
How to Make Chiacchiere Recipe
- 500 gr (1,1 lb) of “00” flour
- 80 gr (2,8 oz) of sugar
- 50 gr (1,8 oz) of unsalted butter at room temperature
- grated zest of half a lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder for cakes
- 4 tablespoons of Grappa or Passito wine or Marsala wine
- 3 whole medium eggs
- 1 medium egg yolk
- 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla powder for baking
- 1/4 teaspoon of fine salt
- 1 liter of vegetable oil for frying
- plenty of powdered sugar for topping
Kitchen Tools and Equipment for Chiacchiere Recipe
To make Chiacchiere recipe it’s necessary to have a pasta machine both for kneading and for rolling out the dough. Of course our grandmothers were very good with the rolling pin but the machine is certainly better for rolling out the dough very thin (about 2mm) and also to have the dough strips of the same width.
To cut the pasta you need a pastry cutter wheel with wavy edge that will give the Chiacchiere their typical zigzag side.
Very useful is also a frying pan with high edges to fry up to 2 or 3 Chiacchiere at a time.
Step 1) – First sift the flour then place it, together with the baking powder and vanilla powder, in the bowl of the planetary mixer. Put the leaf accessory on to mix well the ingredients. After a few minutes, add sugar, salt and the liqueur of your choice, one after the other.
Step 2) – In a bowl, beat the whole eggs with the yolk then add them to the mixture. Mix for a few more minutes.
Step 3) – Now remove the leaf and put on the dough hook. Add the butter and lemon zest, let the pasta work for about 15 minutes and if it seems too dry, add just 10 ml of water. The dough must be firm but malleable.
Step 4) – Transfer the dough to a work surface and handle it quickly to give it a spherical shape. Wrap the dough with cling film and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Step 5) – After this time, cut the dough into portions of about 150 g each (5 oz) and start working each one individually. Flatten slightly a first piece with the palm of your hand. Flour it a little and roll it out with the pasta roller set to the larger thickness.
Step 6) – Each time you roll the dough, fold it back on itself, then roll it again, setting the dough pusher on an ever smaller thickness, until it reaches about 2 mm (0,08 inch). Let the pasta sheets rest on the work surface for a few minutes so that they dry out a little. Now with a pastry cutter wheel, start to cut rectangles of about 5×10 cm (2×4 inch).
Step 7) – Now make two central cuts on each one.
Step 8) – Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan. The oil is ready when it reaches 160/170 °C (320/338 F). If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, try dipping a small piece of pasta in the oil. If a lot of bubbles form around the pasta, the oil is ready. It’s very important to be able to maintain the right temperature during frying. Fry Chiacchiere two or three at a time. Drain them with a slotted spoon and let them dry on kitchen paper. Once they are cold, sprinkle with icing sugar and enjoy!
Chiacchiere are delicious freshly made till the following day. To keep them fresh longer you can close them in plastic food bags, taking care not to crush them since they are fragile; in this way they can be kept fresh even for 5 – 6 days.
Chiacchiere Recipe: Variations and Suggestions
Baked Chiacchiere: Lighter but equally delicious. Directions and ingredients for cooking Chiacchiere in the oven are the same. After cutting the rectangles of dough, place them on a few baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Just before putting them in the oven, spray them with water with a spray bottle. Bake them in a preheated oven at 190 °C (474 F) for about 8-10 minutes, compatibly with the thickness of the chiacchiere. They should appear golden once cooked. Remove from the oven, let them cool and sprinkle with icing sugar.
Vegan Chiacchiere: Without eggs, without butter, but crumbly and delicious! Chiacchiere without eggs and without butter are thin and crunchy. Vegan Chiacchiere made with ONLY 2 ingredients: soy yogurt or natural white yogurt (150 g / 5 oz) and “00” flour (220 g / 8 oz). Mix well until the dough is smooth and consistent. Let it rest 30 minutes wrapped in cling film and then roll it out with the help of the pasta machine. Go on frying them and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.
Chiacchiere topped with dark chocolate: If you are a chocolate lover, you can enrich your Chiacchiere with dark chocolate. After having fried the Chiacchiere, melt 200 g / 7 oz of dark chocolate in a bain-marie and pour it on the Chiacchiere, previously placed on parchment paper. Decorate by forming streaks and let them cool until the chocolate hardens.
Salty Chiacchiere:perfect if matched with mixed cold cuts and cheeses! Salty Chiacchiere are a tasty and exquisite appetizer for the Carnival party! It is the rustic version of the classic sweet Chiacchiere! The procedure is the same as for sweet Chiacchiere. After frying, sprinkle with a few black pepper!
These are the doses for about 30 salty Chiacchiere:
- 125 g (4,5 oz) of “00” flour
- 1 whole medium egg
- 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
- 2 tablespoons of dry white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon of fine salt
- a little chopped rosemary
Serve salty Chiacchiere with cold cuts, cheeses or olives!