Chiacchiere: Italy's Traditional Carnival Sweets

by Christopher Atwood

Each year, carnevale takes place right before the  season of Lent—the forty days leading up to Easter.  Carnival is the food-filled feast that precedes the strict fasting tied to Easter. Historically, the faithful would give up eating meat during Lent — the name carnevale in fact derives from carne (meat) + levare (to remove).

Carnival in Italy is much more than masks in Venice. So, how do Italians celebrate Carnival at their table?


Nowadays, regardless of where you travel in Italy, Italians celebrate carnival with mountains of sweets.  Romans fry up frappe. Lugarians bite into bugie. In Venice, home to Italy’s most famous Carnival, locals nibble on galani (also called ‘chiacchiere’) – crowned in a dusting of powdered sugar.  

These rich treats signify one last greasy glut before the fasting should start.  Below, you’ll find our authentic Italian recipe for fried chiacchiere :


3 cups all-purpose flour

⅓ cup sugar

3 tablespoons of room temperature butter

2 eggs, whisked together

¾ cup of dry white wine

1 pinch of salt


Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, making a large well in the center. Add the butter—already broken up into smaller chunks—into the well. Using your fingers, quickly rub the butter into the flour-sugar mixture.  Once combined, you should mix in the whisked eggs slowly into the dry ingredients with a fork. Bit by bit, now add in the white wine– watching to make sure the dough absorbs the liquid before adding in the next tablespoon of wine.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes, as if you’re working a bread dough. ((Be sure the counter is lightly floured)). Your dough is ready when it’s smooth, pliable and elastic to the touch.  Cover with a moist towel and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour.  Now, roll the dough out until thin. Cut your rolled dough into triangles or squares (1-2 inches per side).

Fry the strips of dough in oil that’s heated to 375F. It’s best to do this in batches. Fry the dough, turning once, for 5-10 seconds. Once lightly golden, remove the cooked chiacchiere to a paper total.  Toss the just-fried crisps in powdered sugar and serve immediately.

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