Abruzzo Traditional Christmas Dessert: Caggionetti (Calchoons)

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 10

In Abruzzo it isn’t Christmas without Caggionetti. There are many versions according to the area and your tastes. In this version caggionetti are filled with chickpeas, bitter cacao, sugar, honey, mosto cotto (cooked wine), walnuts, almonds, peel of orange and ground cinnamon



  • 1 kg of chickpeas
  • 100 g of bitter cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 250 g of honey
  • 1 cup of mosto cotto (cooked wine: 1 lt of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine and 600 gr of sugar boiled up to the caramelization)
  • 300 g of walnuts
  • 300 g of almonds
  • peel of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon


  • Fine wheat flour – cake flour (1 kg)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 glass of extra-virgin olive oil  (200 ml, 6.7628 ounces, 0,84 cups)
  • 1 glass of white wine (200 ml, 6.7628 ounces, 0,84 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • vegetable oil (about 2 liters)



  1. Boil and mush the chickpeas.
  2. Dissolve the honey in a saucepan with sugar and mosto cotto, add cacao, mix and add the spices and the chickpeas, and finally the ground nuts and almonds.
  3. Mix well, remove from heat and let cool.


  1. Make a fountain with the flour
  2. Add all the ingredients (for the dough) to the center
  3. Stir with a fork slowly incorporating the flour until a dough forms
  4. Roll the dough into a thin sheet
  5. Cut into squares
  6. Put a half tablespoon of filling in the center
  7. Close as a book
  8. Squeeze the edges
  9. Fry in hot vegetable oil

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41 thoughts on “Abruzzo Traditional Christmas Dessert: Caggionetti (Calchoons)”

  1. My nonna who was from Vasto made these all of the time.
    For years I have been trying ro get this recipe .Every time someone would give me the recipe it wasnot like my nonnas. This is it!!! Finally!
    What a great recipe ! Grazie!

  2. Joseohine Mitrano

    My mother used to make something similar but instead of the wine she used grape juice and grape jam which she cooked with the rest of the ingredients stirring until it was spreadable. She would then sprinkle with sugar and bake.

  3. So amazing to find your website. This is the closest I have gotten to Grandma’s recipe.
    Mille grazie, Fabrizio.

  4. My father is from Sulmona. He used to make these when I was little. I’ve always wanted a recipe but was never even sure of the correct spelling so I could look it up. Thank you for posting this recipe. I’m looking forward to more!

    1. Joleen Anderegg

      My gramma Marietta and my momma made something they called ‘kachoons’ and I’ve got their recipe written down as they used handfuls and other amounts that weren’t documented. It’s something I’ve been looking for and although your recipe is somewhat different, it gives me chills and tears to find this connection!!💕

      1. Fabrizio Lucci

        Buongiorno Anita,

        grazie mille to share your nice story; I’m happy that it was emotional for you to find this connection. Keep following us to discover more stories and traditional recipes from Abruzzo.

        Ciao for now, Fabrizio.

  5. Yes!! We make these also. But we also use grape jam in the filling. Between what my mom could remember and the Internet, we’ve found our recipe. Our family was from Torre de’ Passeri. This warms my heart and puts a smile on my face!

  6. Valerie Cantagallo

    My family is so excited to have found your website. As many have mentioned this is a favored memory from our much loved and truly missed ancestors. It is my husband and I life dream to visit Penne, Italy where our family lived.

  7. Ciao!
    The recipe calls for glass of white wine, how much?! Is this in printable form? Have looked and can’t find that!
    My Babbo was from Penne and I miss him and want to continue connecting to his beloved Abruzzo!
    Grazie tanto:)
    Annamaria Rita (Gambacorta) Woolworth

    1. Fabrizio Lucci

      Ciao Annamaria,

      many thanks for your request. 1 “glass” of olive oil and 1 “glass” of white wine correspond to 200 ml, 6.7628 Ounces. Enjoy caggionetti and Buon Natale (Merry Christmas)!
      T print it you should copy and paste it on word.

      Penne is a beutiful village:-)


    2. Michele DeCesare Warner

      My grandparents were from Penne too! Their last name was Rosati. My grandmothers was Trigani (that is not the correct spelling) I live in Florida now, from NJ. My grandmother made tons of these wonderful filled cookies. I so enjoyed them too. I have been making them for my cousins who enjoyed them but do not make them.

      1. Ciao Michele,
        thank you for your beautiful words and for sharing them with us.

        it is a pleasure to know that you carry on the Abruzzo culinary traditions of your grandparents.

        After all, Abruzzo is a little bit in each one of us 🙂 .

        Ciao for now and see you soon in Abruzzo!


  8. Donna Wierzbowski

    Please quantify what is meant by 1 “glass” of olive oil and 1 “glass” of white wine in the dough portion of the ingredients. I think i’d like to make them.

    1. Fabrizio Lucci

      Ciao Donna,

      many thanks for your request. 1 “glass” of olive oil and 1 “glass” of white wine correspond to 200 ml, 6.7628 Ounces. Enjoy caggionetti and Buon Natale (Merry Christmas)!


  9. He lol,
    I am a sixty five year old man. My grandparents and my father are from a little town in Abruzzi named “Musellaro” not sure of the spelling. My grandmother would make this Caggionetti every Christmas and I loved it, really loved it. Sadly after she past, no one in the family knew the recipe..two sons and two daughter all excellent cooks could not reproduce it. My grandmother did not speak English and in her broken English she pronounced it
    Calchoon. So nobody I ever spoke to about it had no idea what I was talking about. I knew most of the ingredients but not all. Imagine my surprise when I came across your recipe tonight. I was thinking about the Christmas I had as a kid, my grandma and those delicious
    “Calchoons”. I decided on a whim to search out Abruzzi pastry and your recipe was the first one to pop up. I know based on the ingredients of your recipe that this is it. Thank you, thank you so much for giving me back some of my Christmas memories and flavors. I’m sure that the cooked wine is a key ingredient, who knew. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    God bless,
    Joseph Staffieri
    Rochester NY

    1. Fabrizio Lucci

      Dear Joseph,

      many many thanks for your very emotional story. We are very happpy to have helped you to find this recipe and to give you back some of your Christmas memories and flavors. Enjoy them and Buon Natale (Merry Christmas)! Fabrizio

  10. Alicia DiBerardino Barrasso

    My mom who was born in Corvara used to make these every Christmas. I tried making them myself a few times but they never came out like hers. Now that I saw your recipe it brought back so many fond memories of baking with my mom. I must try at least one more time to make them to honor her memory of such happy holiday times we had.

    1. Fabrizio Lucci

      Many thanks dear Alicia for sharing with us such a good memory. I wish you good luck with the new preparation (there is a “secret” ingredient, the love) and Buon Natale! Fabrizio

  11. My beloved mamma, that was born and raised in a little town in Abbruzzo called Colledimezzo, always made these at Christmas time but I never got the recipe. So excited to try these, although my moms didn’t have the nuts in it.
    Would you happen to have the recipe for cillitti (not sure of spelling) also? These are the ones that look like little horseshoes with grape jelly, mosto cotto and chopped walnuts in it.
    Thank you and Buon Natale!

    1. Fabrizio Lucci

      Many thanks dear Evelina for sharing with us such a good memory. Colledimezzo is a beautiful village on the lake of Bomba.About “cillitti”, we prepare them during our cultural and culinary tours and at the moment we decided to give the recipe only to the travelers that decide to came to Abruzzo to discover our traditions, food, landscapes and people with us. I hope that you can understand. Buon Natale!

    1. Fabrizio Lucci

      Hi Roberto,

      I’m sorry to answer only now to your comment, but I’ve just found it among the spam, sometimes happens.
      Many thanks for your comment. Celli Ripieni is another recipe and maybe we’ll post it during the next few months:-).

      Ciao for now,


  12. OMG! My grandmother was from Penne, she taught my mother how to make these cookies. My grandmother would make barrels of these for all family. Now, I make them. But like one of the above bakers, we called them Calchoons! My grandmother spoke broken English too. Then found out their true name later in life. I love, love, love these. We did alter the recipe a bit though. Plus , one of my recipes said to omit the egg but I am going to add the egg from now on like my mother did. Our family uses a prune butter as
    part of the filling. I would love to Penne some day.

    1. Fabrizio Lucci

      Hi Michele,

      I’m sorry to answer only now to your comment, but I’ve just found it among the spam, sometimes happens.
      Many thanks for sharing your emotional story. I’m really happy that you found interesting our information and if one day you’ll decide to discover your roots and need some help, don’t hesitate to contact me.

      Ciao for now,


  13. Sheila Knapp

    My family also referred to these desserts as “Calchoons”. I have family in Ortona. My great grandmother was an Iannucci and my great grandfather was a D’Amico. We make this recipe with grade jam and walnts.

  14. Raymond P Lucci

    Ciao Fabrizio!
    Ringraziamente per questa ricetta! Mia madre faceva queste calgionetti per ogni Natale. Forse, siamo parenti. Mio nonno Raimondo Lucci era da Bisenti nel Provincia di Teramo. Lui e suo fratello Guiseppe, e il loro sorella, Natalina emigrato al U.S.A. verso 1905-1910. Il loro genitori, Pasquale e Rosa e uno fratello e due sorelle rimasto in Bisenti dove ho cugini. Il padre di Pasqaule, si chiamata Innocenzo era sposato a una donna si chiamata Maria (Scocchia). Credo che abbiano avuto due altre ragazzi, Gaetano e Giovanni. Forse, tra questi uomini, siamo parenti? Anche, i genitori della mia madre eranno da Castelfrentano e Cupelo in vicino di Vasta. Scusatami, il mio Italaino non e` bene. Again, my mother’s kitchen was truly an Abruzzese “cucina” in America every holiday and every Sunday. Grazie e Ciao,

    1. Ciao Raymond,

      che bello leggerti e in italiano per di più. Sono contento che ti piaccia la ricetta dei caggionetti. E che piacere scoprire che abbiamo lo stesso cognome😊. Ho chiesto a mio padre e mi ha confermato che non abbiamo parenti dalle parti di Bisenti (provincia di Teramo), quasi 2 ore in macchina da Vasto. mi dispiace☹. La nostra famiglia è originaria di Rapino, nella Provincia di Chieti, la stessa dove è localizzata Vasto. Come si chiama la tua famiglia di Castelfrentano e Cupello? Che bello sapere che la cucina di tua madre era truly an Abruzzese “cucina”. Forse ti potrebbe fare piacere veder questo video sul dialetto abruzzese: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyxGuedRolo . Grazie e ciao for now, Fabrizio

      1. Raymond P Lucci

        Ciao Fabrizio, Grazie per la tua risposta! i parenti della mia madre, Emilia sono a Castelfrentano e Cupelo nella Provincia di Chieti. Mio Nonno materna era Signore Nicola Liberio e mia nonna era Virginia Tracanna. Questa settimana fina voglio prepare i caggionetti dalla tua ricetta! Grazie per questo. Porterò scatole di caggionetti ai miei cugini paterni che vivono ancora nelle vicinanze nei sobborghi di Filadelfia.

        Spesso dico che sono Americano ma fatto di parti Abruzzese (e un po napoletano, la madre di mio padre).

  15. Carolyn Mingioni

    Thank you so much for this recipe! My mom used to make them every Christmas. I so wanted to find this recipe and I know this is the one might be a litle out of my league BUT I have a son who went to culinary school and he is excited to help me!! Mangia!! 🌺🙋‍♀️🌹

  16. Michael Harrison

    Fabrizio, just came across your page…thank you for posting this recipe. My Grandmother was from Galiagno and made these every Christmas. I have not had any for over 20 years. It is definitely the smell and taste like no other that brings me back to Christmas as a kid. Friends and younger family members did not believe there was a “cookie” with chocolate and chickpeas. Can’t wait for Christmas now! Grazie……

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