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Caggionetti: And here's another cookie request that came in before the holidays; my apologies for getting to it now: "Every Christmas my mother makes an Italian fried pastry. The filling is chopped chestnuts, cocoa powder, citrine fruit, and a little anise for flavor. She has always called them pastagels, but others call them caganettes. They are made like ravioli and deep fried. Do you have any information about them? OR a recipe. My mother's family came from a region of Italy near Naples."


  • For the dough
  • 4 1/3 cups (500 g) flour
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
  • Dry white wine
  • For the filling
  • 1 pint (1/2 l) cooked wine must (this is grape must, cooked
  • down to the consistency of a syrup. It's quite sweet; see link below to sapa)
  • 6 ounces (150 g) almonds, blanched, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 ounces (50 g) walnut meats, blanched, peeled and finely chopped
  • 12 ounces (300 g) dried chestnuts
  • A scant 1/4 cup (40 g) sugar
  • 2 ounces (50 g) candied citron
  • A hint of ground cinnamon
  • For the Cooking:
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Sugar
  • Ground cinnamon


This particular recipe for Caggionetti is from the Abruzzo-Molise area, which was long under the sway of Naples. Begin the night before, by setting the chestnuts to soak in cold water. Discard any that float to the surface, because they will either be hollow or inhabited. The next day boil them until tender, drain them, and put them through a strainer or foodmill with a fine plate.

Heat the must in a pot to a simmer and stir in the nutmeat, walnuts and cinnamon, then add the chestnut cream and stir well. Turn off the fire, mix in the sugar and the citron, and put the pot in a cool place or the refrigerator for a couple of hours or more.

Make a mound of the flour on your work space and scoop a hole out of the middle to make a well. Mix in the oil and then sufficient wine to obtain a firm elastic dough -- you're aiming for something that has the consistency of pasta dough, so it's going to be considerably firmer than bread dough. Knead the dough well, divide it into two parts, and roll out the first into a thin sheet (about as thin as fresh pasta, 1/16 of an inch or 2 mm). Use a glass or doughnut cutter to cut out 2-inch (5 cm) diameter rounds of dough. In the middle of each place a hazelnut-sized chunk of filling, then fold the pasta over the filling and tamp it down well to obtain bulging half-moons. Repeat the process with the second piece of dough and the cuttings from the first.

Heat abundant oil and fry the caggionetti; as soon as they're golden remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on absorbent paper. Dust them with sugar and a little cinnamon, and serve them hot.

There are many variations. For example, some make the dough by boiling dried chestnuts and blending them. If you were to do this, I think you'd have to add some flour too to obtain a workable dough.

Others use creamed chick peas in the filling instead of chestnuts, or flavor their caggionetti with lemon rind, anise seeds, or grated baking chocolate.

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