Chiacchiere, make the Carnevale sweet treat at home. The appearance of chiacchiere in Brera restaurant and bakery windows every year heralds the coming of spring and a signal to all that the back of winter has been broken. They are therefore a celebration of the coming light of the season and the end to dark days.
While the tradition of the sweet, fried and crinkle-cut pastries is associated with the beginning of Lent and can be closely associated with the practice of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, their origins can be traced back to Pre-Christian Ancient Rome and the celebrations of Saturnalia and Bacchanalia.
Nevertheless, the chiacchiere that we know, and love are a season favourite, beloved of children and adults alike. Most likely, the name has an onomatopoeic etymology, coming from the sound that the crisp and crunchy pastry makes when broken and eaten.
It is derived also from the Italian verb ‘chiacchiere’, meaning to chat or to make small talk, an art that Italians excel at. So, when Martedi Grasso, (Mardi Gras, Pancake Tuesday) arrives, and we turn to face a period of self-imposed culinary austerity during the month of Lent, the chiacchiere are the perfect way to use up all the eggs in your pantry and indulge your sweet tooth one last time. Learn how to make them at home with this recipe:
- 250 g flour 00
- 20 g sugar
- 75 g icing sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 organic lemon
- 1 pinch of Mediterranean Sea salt
- 100 g unsalted butter
- Vanilla extract
- ½ tsp baking powder
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl until evenly distributed. Add the butter and gently use your fingertips to combine them together until a breadcrumb–like texture is achieved.
Make a well in the mixture and add the eggs, vanilla extract and a drop of liqueur of choice (if using) and the zest of a lemon. Use a fork to gradually whisk together the ingredients to form a dough.
Tip the dough onto a clean surface and knead. Don’t worry if it seems a bit dry, resist the temptation to add any liquid. The consistency will change when the dough has the chance to rest, and the gluten is activated. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and leave to rest for about an hour.
Cut the dough into four pieces and pass each piece through a pasta roller/machine or use a rolling pin to roll out the dough in sheets, taking care to dust with flour so they don’t stick. Then cut the sheets into rectangles using a zig-zag shaped pasta cutter.
Heat a pot filled with vegetable oil. You can tell when the frying temperature has been achieved by dropping a small piece of dough into the oil, when if fizzes and crisps, it is ready for your chiacchiere. Add the chiacchiere a few at a time and fry in the oil. When cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
When your chiacchiere have cooled, but still warm, dust generously with icing sugar and enjoy!