The Necci, a kind of Chestnut Flour Crepes, are one of the recipes of Tuscan Christmas tradition I love the most, for its sweetness and for its ingredients.
The Necci Chestnut Flour Crepes is typical of Epiphany eve. In my family, we used to prepare them even on the 13th of December to celebrate Saint Lucy, another of the many characters related to Christmas that, in recent past (until the post-war period), was bringing gifts to the good children.
Chestnut Flour Necci are an example of the Tuscan Cucina Povera, the cuisine from those “hard times” when chestnuts and chestnut flours were one of the main ingredients in the kitchen.
Necci are delicious even if tasted alone, but it is with a filling like ricotta cheese that they become mouthwatering. For gluttons, there is a version of these Chestnut Flour Crepes filled with Nutella instead of ricotta, but if you are a super glutton you can use both, or try the variant with honey and sheep ricotta cheese.
Traditionally, the Chestnut Necci were cooked in the testi, two iron plates with a long handle. First, they were both heated on the fire and slightly greased. Then, the chestnut mixture was poured on top of one of the two hot plates, and the other was placed above to cook the Neccio on both sides. Here a video where you can see an example of how the Chestnut Necci were prepared in the past.
In my family, the member who was in charge to prepare this delicious dish was my grandfather Almo (father of my father), who silently, was cooking the Chestnut Necci, while I and my cousins were all around him staring at him cooking, having fun looking at his aquiline nose, and making jokes about that.
This delicious recipe is so good that even the popular Martha Stewart talks of it on her blog. Without lessen her, or chef Mario Batali (that gave her the recipe), I assure you that my recipe without eggs is the original one.
If you love chestnuts, another cake of the Tuscan tradition you definitely have to prepare is the Castagnaccio.
Here is the recipe to try to cook Chestnut Necci at your place.