Carnival (Mardi Gras) is finally coming and, also for this eve, Italian cuisine – in its countless recipes – has it own typical “cake” which I’m so glad to introduce you: “Chiacchiere” (a.k.a. Mardi Gras Fritters).
When I was a little girl, “Chiacchiere” were one of my favourite dessert and I don’t remember any Carnival party I attended without these pastries. My mother used to bake Chiacchiere few days before Mardi Gras or when we used to organize fancy dress/costume parties at home with my sister and brother.
“Chiacchiere” are rectangular thin pastries (baked or fried) finally dusted with powdered sugar. These are very easy to cook and really tasty: they’re literally unfailing on Mardi Gras!
Here to you my own recipe for 50/60 Chiacchiere:
- 300 gr all-purpose flour
- 40 gr sugar
- 2 eggs
- 60 gr milk
- 30 gr butter
- 1 tablespoon Grappa
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch baking soda
- Vanilla extract to taste
- Frying oil, as needed
Pour out the flour onto a flat work surface. Make a hole in the middle, then add the other ingredients in the center, except for the milk. Gradually add the milk as you begin to knead the dough.
Using your hands, knead the dough until it is smooth; then cover in a plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes ca. Then, divide the dough into pieces and roll out the dough until 2 mm, using a rolling pin or pasta machine. Use a knife or pasta cutter to cut out rectangles (or whatever shape you prefer, like diamonds).
Fry the dough in boiling oil. The dough should be completely submerged in the oil for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Once golden, remove the fritters using a slotted spoon and place them on parchment paper.
Dust the fritters with powdered sugar. The “Chiacchiere” can be served immediately or stored for a couple of days.
Short Food History
According to the Christian calendar, Carnival (or Mardi Gras) is the period that leads up to Lent. Carnival began as a pagan festival dedicated to god Saturn, father of Jupiter. During the Saturnalia (that was held during the month of March), people would wear masks to drive away the spirits, make sacrifices, participate in orgies and invert social roles, turning landowners into slaves and vice versa during the entire duration of the festival.
With the spread of Christianity, the more wild, pagan elements of the celebration were left behind and Carnival became a time to eat and party in excess prior to Lent. For this reason, many to the foods prepared during the Carnival period are sweets and especially fritters.