Monday, January 15, 2007

Cicerchiata – Italian Carnival Treats from Abruzzo

Cicerchie are small beans. They are an integral part of traditional recipes of Abruzzo however, they are becoming harder and harder to find. Only a few local farms in Abruzzo grow them, as the larger producers prefer the Ceci. Abruzzese traditions keep this ingredient of the comfort food alive. Throughout the year some pastry shops will make this traditional sweet of Carnival but in the month of January just about every family and restaurant will have a plate of Cicerchiata sitting around, tempting you every moment. These pastries are not beans instead they are a fried sweet bread about the size of small meatballs and glued together with oozing honey and candied fruit.

Most likely you will not find them elsewhere in Italy so a trip to this beautiful region is most likely the only way to try the original recipe. Some great wines to accompany this plate of gluttonous pleasure are Muffato della Sala, Verdicchio, and Falanghina. Every year during Carnival the town of Massa Lubrense, near Termini, holds the "Sagra delle Cicerchie".

Ingredients for the Cicerchie:
2 cups (300 g) All-purpose Flour
1/4 stick (30 g) Butter
4 tbsp (30 g) Sugar
2 Eggs
¾ cups Dry White Wine
Olive Oil for Frying

Ingredients for the soft Brittle:

120 g Honey
120 g Sugar
Minced candied fruit.


Mix together the ingredients for the Cicerchie. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Cut the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece into a stick the size of a grissino. Cut the stick into equal parts (see the preparation of Gnocchi). Continue with the other 3 sticks.

Pour enough Olive Oil to create a base of about 1 inch of oil. Bring to frying temperature. Do not overheat. To check the temperature, fry one Cicerchie. Once at temperature fry the amount of one stick at a time and drain on a wire rack with paper underneath.

Mix the Sugar and Honey together in a large bowl. Add the Cicerchie and minced candied fruit and spread on a baking sheet covered with wax paper or put into form on a plate and allow the Cicerchie to cool to room temperature.

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Blogger Italian Wine Guy® said...

My buddy Alessio di Majo Norante makes a wine that goes well with Cicerchiata, called Apianae. he served it with at Vinitaly

nice reminder, I.I.G.


6:20 AM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

it is nearly imossible for me to remember that name! i found those at my fruttivendolo who has a beautiful stock of dried legumes for the winter. i had never seen them...they took more than three hours to cook and (like chickpeas) they never became very soft. interesting flavor, though! i love a new experience.

as for the cicerchiata, is that like strufoli?

3:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is "cicerchie" properly pronounced?

11:11 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

anon I do not have a specific knowledge of Abruzzese however Raffaella says:

Chee' Cherk (hard)e (hard)a

11:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i tried this and the dough was too sticky i couldnt work with it, it stuck to everything.

10:06 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Anon Sorry to hear that. The very first instruction is how the dough should be. Depending on the type of flour, the air humidity in the air, and the size of the eggs (I always use medium eggs) you will have to adjust the flour.

4:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

could you make one for me and mail it to me... I'll pay you....

7:51 PM


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