“I can’t be left alone in the room with these.” I told my sister with a very honest tone. And I wasn’t kidding. As a frequent home baker, over the years, I have pretty much learned some level of self-control. As much as I love baking, I am a “sharer” as well. I frequently bake and immediately give away much of my efforts to neighbors, friends, or even the mailman! All that said, the rules change entirely when it comes to chiacchiere. I don’t show any self-control, nor do I share! These crispy pieces of sweet dough are fried and immediately dusted with icing sugar. They are very, very addictive. Much like potato chips, it is impossible to eat just one. Overindulgence is almost a sure bet with these.
Chiacchiere are most often eaten during carnival season in Italy. The period before Lent in which overeating, in preparation for the more restrictive period of Lent, is almost a given.
The word “chiacchiere” loosely translates to “small talk” or “chatter.” More than that, it means to have a few laughs with friends. In Italy, people often say, “C’i incontriamo per due chiacchiere?” Or “Shall we meet for a few laughs?”
There are different variations of these, much like most Italian dishes. Many add white wine to the dough, some add grappa, and many add citrus zest. In this recipe, I just used pure vanilla extract, and when sweetened with the confectionary sugar, I think they are perfect. If you have anise liquor or white wine, feel free to swap out a few tablespoons of the milk. You can also add citrus zest and pure lemon extract instead of vanilla.
Ready to Start Rolling?
This recipe is not very lazy. Having an extra set of hands will make rolling the dough in the pasta machine a bit more manageable. They are a great Sunday afternoon activity. If you do not have a helper in the kitchen, you can still make them as easily. And give yourself at least an hour from start to finish. And be prepared to munch on these all day long. They go well with coffee, tea, wine, anisette liquor, or all alone!
Chiacchiere di Carnevale
Yields about 70 pieces.
4 cups all purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons baking powder
2 – 5 tablespoons milk
4 – 5 cups vegetable oil for frying
Icing sugar for topping
Specials tools required: Pasta machine
- On a clean work surface, place the flour and add the sugar. Make a nest in the center and add the beaten eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract and baking powder.
- Using a fork, gently start pulling in some of the flour into the hole, being careful that it does not spill over your counter.
- Start kneading the dough by hand, and add milk, one tablespoon at a time, as needed. (Depending on the size of your eggs, you might end up needing anywhere from 2 – 5 tablespoons of milk.)
- Continue working the dough by hand to bring it together into a ball. It should feel like pizza dough.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, (cover the other pieces with plastic wrap), run the dough through a pasta machine. Start with the thickest setting working your way to the second to last thinnest setting or until about 1/10 of an inch in thickness. You will end up with sheets that resemble fresh lasagna sheets.
- Using a decorative pastry wheel, or pizza cutter, cut chiacchiere into desired shapes. Typical shapes are rectangles about 5 inches long and 1 ½ –2 inches wide. Place on clean kitchen towel and continue with the rest of the dough.
- Preheat the vegetable oil. Fry the strips of dough in the oil until just golden, paying close attention to not overcrowd the pan or burn the chiacchiere. Should take about 30 – 40 seconds.
- Remove chiacchire from the hot oil and place them on a cookie sheet that has been lined with paper towels. This will help absorbing some of the oil.
- Plate and dust with confectionary sugar. Store them in an airtight container to maintain crispness. They will last about 3 days.
What to Pack for Italy
Cosa Mettere in Valigia per l'Italia
Everyone is always asking me what they should pack for Italy,
so I’ve created a quick reference guide that you can use for your next trip.
Hint: You don’t need nearly as much as you think you do!