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Cicerchiata: a typical Carnival dessert

Recipes 1 Feb 2021

The Cicerchiata is a traditional dessert from Italy’s Abruzzo region, particularly enjoyed in the Carnival period. Its preparation varies from the ingredients that are added in the end (toasted almonds, colored sprinkles or candied fruit) to the shape it takes once cooled (it usually looks like a donut but can also be found in single portions).


The Atlas of Abruzzo’s traditional products traces its history back to the Sangro area, a place renowned for its excellent honey. Honey acts as a “glue”, sticking together the little balls of pastry that make up this dessert (the so called “cicerchie”).

The origin of its name is to be sought in the Middle Ages and seems to derive from a bean similar to chickpeas: the cicerchia. The small balls of dough that make up this dessert take the shape of a “pile of beans”.


  •     2 eggs
  •     150 grams of sugar
  •     30 grams of butter
  •     300 g of type 00 flour
  •     fry oil
  •     dry white wine
  •     120 grams of honey


Prepare the dough in a bowl, mixing flour with soft butter. Add the eggs, 30 grams of sugar and a touch of wine until a smooth and homogeneous ball is obtained. Divide the dough into long strands of pasta, cut them and after that, form balls the size of a chickpea. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the little balls until they are golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.

Caramelize the remaining sugar (120gr) and honey in a pan. As soon as it takes on color, add the balls and mix with a wooden spoon. Take your serving dish and shape the mixture into the desired shape with wet hands.Add candied fruit or sugar sprinkles, if you like.


The Abruzzese cicerchiata recipe is very similar to a well-known carnival Neapolitan dessert, the Struffoli, even though in the Neapolitan tradition it’s a typical Christmas cake.

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