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Italian Recipes. Carnival sweets “cenci”

CenciFebruary in Italy – is a time of carnivals and one of the most exciting periods to travel to Tuscany, where you can find a variety of celebrations, from the huge Viareggio Carnival to many fiestas of small villages. None of the carnivals in Italy can take place without two things – masks and sweets. So today in ‘Sunday Recipe’ rubrics – the traditional Tuscan carnival sweets ‘Cenci’.

Cenci is a Tuscan variant of sweet, so do not be surprised to find some other names of it, for example, chiacchere, frappe and many others. Cenci is usually made only during the period of carnivals. It is argued that the oldest cenci recipes date back to Roman times. The origin of the name ‘cencio’ is also very old, it is Florentine, later dispersed throughout Tuscany. The word itself means ‘a rag’, as the form of the sweet really reminds a patch of cloth. Actually, the contours of cencio can be recognised in the costumes of the characters of most popular Italian carnivals, especially in the outfits of Arlecchino, Colombina and Commedia dell’Arte. And if you visit the Viareggio Carnival – you will them in Burlamacco’s costume.

  • 500 g of flour
  • 3 eggs (2 egg whites and yolks, 1 egg yolk)
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 50 g butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
  • 1 small cup of Vin Santo or any other sweet liqueur
  • Oil for frying
  • Confectioners’ sugar



  1. Beat eggs, add sugar, melted butter and mix well.
  2. Pour salt, vanilla sugar, sweet liqueur and mix well.
  3. Pour and stir flour. The dough should be medium stiff.
  4. Leave dough to ‘rest’ for half an hour.
  5. Divide dough into several parts, take it one by one and roll out into a pancake of few millimetres thickness.
  6. Cut pancake into rhombi (the length of one side is about 4 cm) and fry in hot oil.
  7. Take out rhombi from oil; leave them on paper towels for a few minutes to absorb the excess of oil and let cool.
  8. Sprinkle cenci with confectioners’ sugar and serve.