Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 3rd May 2013
Chiacchiere, sweet pastry fried until crispy and dusted with confectioners’ sugar, is traditionally prepared for Italian Carnevale. These Venetian Fried Pastries or Italian fritters go by different names, Crostoli, Cenci, Bugie, Cioffe, Frappe, Fiochetti, Sfrappole, and Galani, depending on the region in which they are prepared.
The origin of this sweet treat is traced back to frictilia of ancient Rome. During the same months in which Carnevale is celebrated today, Romans used to prepare frictilia to celebrate the end of winter. Frictilia, sweet pastry strips that were deep fried in pork fat, were prepared in large quantities, because the goal was to make them last for the entire period that corresponds to the tradition of Lent.
Although they are typically prepared for Carnevale they are also commonly served at Christmas, Easter and special occasions like baptisms and weddings.
I remember receiving towering trays of Chiacchiere at Christmas time. My mother used to store them in the cold room to keep them fresh. She always knew when I’d been sneaking it for a taste or two because my face was covered in confectioners’ sugar – they were so hard to resist!
I prepared these by hand using a rolling pin and rolling the dough quite thin can be a bit of a workout but you can also roll the pastry dough with a pasta machine, similar to preparing Cannoli shells.
Along with the various given names these sweet fried pastry strips are also cut and shaped in various ways, squares, rectangles, diamonds, thin strips tied in loose knots and of course, the bow shape that I’ve prepared.
Just a friendly warning, whatever name, shape or size, Chiacchiere are very, very hard to resist, one leads to two and two to three and before you know it the bountiful tray is all gone!
Thankfully, Chiacchiere are very simple to prepare.
Venetian Fried Pastries – Chiacchiere – Crostoli
Makes about 50 cookies
- 313 g (2½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 large egg yolks
- 75 g (1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 60 ml (¼ cup) heavy cream, 35%
- Pinch of salt
- 26 ml (1¾ tablespoons) rum, grappa or brandy
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 960 ml (4 cups) canola or vegetable oil
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Reserve 63 g (½ cup) flour. Using fine mesh sieve, sift the remaining 250 g (2 cups) flour and baking powder into medium bowl. Whisk together to well combine.
- In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat egg yolks at medium speed until pale in colour.
- Add sugar, cream, salt, rum and vanilla and beat to combine.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer. Using wooden spoon, stir in the sifted flour and baking powder mixture.
- Using your hands, begin kneading pastry dough. If dough is extremely sticky, add the reserved 63 g (½ cup) flour a little at a time (make sure to use the sieve and sift the flour over top of the dough – only add what is needed to easily knead the dough). Knead pastry dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Cut the pastry dough into four equal pieces, shape each piece into a ball and wrap each piece in plastic. Chill dough in refrigerator until cold, 30 minutes.
- Work with one ball of dough at-a-time, keep remaining pieces of dough in the refrigerator until needed.
- On a lightly floured work surface; using rolling pin lightly dusted with flour, roll out pastry dough to a thickness of about 2 mm (1/8 inch).
- Using fluted pastry wheel, cut 2½ cm x 8 cm (1 inch x 3-inch) strips. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make a 1¼ (½ inch) slit lengthwise in the centre of each pastry strip. Pull one end of the strip almost all the way through the slit. Repeat rolling and cutting with remaining pastry dough.
- Line rimmed baking sheet with three layers of paper towels (to drain excess oil). Fill deep saucepan (8 cm or 3-inches deep) with oil; heat oil over high heat to temperature of 180° C (350° F).
- Reduce heat to medium. To fry chiacchiere, maintain oil temperature between 175° C and 180° C (340° F and 350° F). Carefully place three to five pastry strips in hot oil, cook until lightly golden on one side, 1½ to 2 minutes. Turn over and continue to cook until golden all over, about 1½ to 2 minutes more.
- Using spider or slotted spoon, remove pastry strips from oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining pastry strips.
- Dust with confectioners’ sugar when chiacchiere are completely cool.
- Buon Appetito!
Tags: after school treat, afternoon tea, Carnevale, carnevale fritters, Carnevale recipes, food, food photography, food photos, fried cookies, Italian Carnevale, Italian cookies, Italian dessert, Italian desserts, Italian fried cookies, Italian fritters, Italian Pastries, Italian pastry, Italian recipes
Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Biscotti, Cookies, Dolci Fritti, Fried Desserts, Pasticcini, Pastries, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Recipes, Ricette di Base