What One Corner of Italy Knew About Chickpeas Well Before Anyone Else

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Brie Passano)

As chickpeas have slowly gained popularity as the bean of choice to toss into soup or whirl into hummus, so too have unique ways to use them. They’re being roasted as a pre-dinner snack, and their cooking liquid is being whipped into vegan meringue. There is one way to use chickpeas that still may seem uncommon to most, although Italians have been doing it for centuries.

Chickpeas + Chocolate

In the central Italian region of Abruzzo, calcionelli (also known as calcionetti or caglionetti) are well-loved Christmas cookies. Made of a simple sweet pastry dough, the cookies are stuffed with a variety of fillings, deep-fried, and dusted with powdered sugar. While a honey-and-nut filling is common, equally as common is a chickpea-and-chocolate filling.

It’s said that for that poorer region of Italy, chickpeas were easy to come by and mimicked the meaty texture and rich flavor of chestnuts, which are a more common match with chocolate and also used as a filling. Due to this, they because a popular choice for many in the area instead of or in addition to chestnuts in calcionelli. Chickpeas have an equally nutty flavor that matches well with chocolate. Chickpea- and chocolate-filled cookies are a treat still enjoyed by that region, and by Italians all over the world who have roots there. Try making them yourself or get that chickpea-chocolate combination in bar form in these sweet, chocolate-flecked chickpea blondies.

Get a recipe: Caggionetti, Calgionetti, Caggiunitt at Christmas Time from Life in Abruzzo

Have you every tried these Italian cookies or the combination or chickpeas and chocolate before?