The Carnival season is known as Carnevale in Italy. This time before Lent is filled with parties, masquerades with elaborate masks and costumes, parades, music, and food. It popular throughout Italy and especially in Venice, with festivities lasting for the two weeks leading to Martedi Grasso, Shrove Tuesday.
Chiacchiere (literal translation: “little gossips”) are thin fried pastries common in Italy during Carnevale. They are called Chiacchiere due to the noise and crunch made while eating the crisp dough. While they go by this name in Sicily, they are known as many others based on the region in Italy, including Cenci and Donzelle in Tuscany, Chiacchiere and Lattughe in Lombardy, Bugie in Liguria, Galani and Crostoli in Veneto, Frappe in Rome, and Sfrappole in Emilia Romagna.
Roll the dough as thinly as possible so they have that crunch when you bite into them. I heated the oil over medium heat, then adjusted as needed to keep the dough from getting too dark between medium and medium low.
I used a fluted pastry wheel to cut out the dough. You can also use a pizza cutter. It just won’t create the detailed edges.
Chiacchiere can have a few different formations. I cut all the dough into about 2 x 4 inch strips. Some are fried just as the strips. I cut 1 or 2 lines in the center of all my strips, leaving about 1/2 inch at the ends. I have also seen Chiacchiere with the dough twisted from these lines or even with strips tied into knots. You can also drizzle them with chocolate after topping with powdered sugar- my personal favorite.
Chiacchiere (Italian Fried Pastries) Recipe
Adapted from Marsala Mia
Chiacchiere (Italian Fried Pastries)
- 1 1/2 cups "00" or unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cold lard or unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Powdered sugar for topping
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Dice the lard or butter and cut into the flour mixture using a dough blender, two forks, or your fingers until pieces are no larger than a pea.
- In a small bowl, add egg and marsala. Beat together until incorporated. Add to the dry ingredients and mix together until dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
- Once chilled, divide the dough into four equal pieces. Place one piece on floured work surface and cover the rest. Roll the dough into a rectangle as thinly as possible, flouring as needed to prevent sticking.
- Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut and detail the edges of the rectangle. Cut the dough into 2 x 4 inch strips. If desired, cut 1-2 lines inside each strip. Place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment and cover while you repeat with remaining pieces.
- Add about 3 inches of oil to a large, deep pan. Place over medium heat to get the oil to 350 degrees F. Once heated, add a few chiacchiere, being careful not to overcrowd. Fry until golden, about 45 seconds, then turn to fry the other side. Place on towel lined plates. Repeat with remaining chiacchiere. Serve with powdered sugar.