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Ciccitielli (Calabrian Christmas fritters with honey)

  • 35 minutes
  • Medium
  • Desserts and Fruit
These delicious honey-covered fritters are traditionally prepared in Calabria around Christmas time.


  • 2 lb all-purpose flour
  • 10 eggs
  • 5 oz sugar
  • 5 oz butter
  • 2 half cups anise liqueur
  • 10 oz honey
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 package baking powder
  • frying oil to taste
  • 1 pinch salt


In a large bowl, mix together seven whole eggs, three egg yolks, sugar, butter, anise liqueur and a pinch of salt. Once well mixed, add the baking powder and slowly pour in the flour, stirring continuously until you have a smooth, yet firm dough. Cover and let the dough rest for an hour.

Then, roll out the rough until ½ inch thick. Cut out little stars, circles, sticks or any form you prefer. Fry the ciccitielli a few at a time in a pan of boiling oil. Make sure the dough is completely covered by the oil. Once golden brown, remove the fritters using a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with papery towels.

Once all of the dough has been fried, melt the honey in a pot with ½ cup water. Let boil for 10 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat.

Add the fritters and stir carefully. Place the honey-covered fritters on a plate and serve immediately or at room temperature.

Food History

Anise seeds have been used since ancient times both for their medicinal and culinary properties. In fact, they were often consumed as a beverage. Originally from the Middle East, anise was found in Iran over 3,000 year ago and historic records show that it was cultivated in Ancient Egypt.
Anise spread to Ancient Greece and later to Ancient Rome, where it was used to prepare meat dishes and traditional ritual desserts that can be considered the ancestors of the modern-day wedding cake. Back then, anise was also used to flavor wine. As written by Dioscorides, the Ancient Romans also believed that anise was an aphrodisiac and capable of igniting passion in any man.
Anise spread to the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages, especially in England, Germany and France, thanks to the fact that monks used it to make liqueurs inside monasteries. Around the same time, the Arabs introduced to Sicilians the custom of drinking water and anise served on ice. This custom then spread across Italy.
After having fallen out of fashion, anise-scented drinks became popular again among bohemians in the form of alcoholic beverages. Because these spirits were prohibited, people quickly began to seek them out. Even the famous Italian writers D’Annunzio and Pasolini mentioned anise-flavored alcohol various times in their works.

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