Sweet Birds From The Province of Chieti

The other day I bought some celli pieni, soft biscuits filled with rustic grape jam called “scrucchjata”, cocoa, lemon zest and almond. Their name derives from “uccelli ripieni” (“stuffed birds”) and in old days the biscuits were shaped as birds. Traditionally they were made for Christmas but nowadays you can find them in small traditional bakeries in the province of Chieti.

abruzzo dessert

Until recently celli pieni were also made for young women who were getting married and leaving their family homes as symbols of fertility. Today it is hard to find them in elaborate bird shapes, more often they look like simple fat rings but they still taste delicious. The dough is very simple, with just a few ingredients: flour, sugar, olive oil and white wine. Here you will find a good recipe (in Italian) if you decide to make these sweet birds at home. If you are visiting Abruzzo, check out these small bakeries where fresh delicious celli pieni are every week:

Alla Chitarra Antica, Via Sulmona, 2, Pescara

Forno Zulli, Via Mazzini, 12, Rocca San Giovanni

L’arte del pane, Via Nazario Sauro, 31, San Vito Chietino

Pasticceria Lidia, Via Paolini, 31, San Vito Chietino

2 thoughts on “Sweet Birds From The Province of Chieti

  1. Thomas E. Melchiorre says:

    I love these cookies. I remember a cold winter night in New Jersey eating these cookies. My aunt who was born in Abruzzo in a small town, Gessopalena, province of Chieti, made them for my dad!
    I can’t make them as good as my grandmom or my aunt, at least I do the best I can so my boys know there is so much more to life than Oreos.
    Tom Melchiorre

  2. Concetta says:

    These sweets are not the traditional wedding celli ripieni!
    They are called the ” cilletti ripieni ” which means, smal filled birds, they are a easier, cheaper tipe of the original ” celli ripieni for weddings ” now you will find them in bakeries in the shape of a S,
    The dough is very different from the above recipe were you only need flour, some sugar, oil, wine in same amounts, for the filling only preserves is used either grape or cherry.
    The dough for the original ” celli ripieni Abbruzzese for weddings ” is much more complicated and richer, the dough is made with eggs, flour, sugar, olive oil, baking powder, the dough is sticky and you need to oil your hands to work it, also, the filling is richer, in this filling the mosto cotto, cooked grape juice taken during the grape harvest /wine making and cooked then placed in jars and put aside to be used as a spread or for baking, the filling contains mosto cotto, chocolate, orange zest, some dry biscotti, in Abruzzo neither walnuts or almonds were ever used and rarely chocolate ( people couldn’t afford it ) and because not everyone had or have the cooked wine grape preserves is used.
    Once the celli ripieni are out of the oven and cooled an icing is made to cover them with egg wites and sugar and no other decoration!!!
    I understand that when the immigrants came to this country and found such abbundence added ingredients ( otherwise unavelable or UNAFORDABLE in the old country ) to old recipes and it always amazes me to see the actual difference. That is also true for cooking recipes. Thank you!

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