Castagnole are Italian Carnival Fritters: Sweet dough fried balls covered in icing sugar or sticky honey and colorful sprinkle, to me Castagnole are the image of Carnival. Do you celebrate Carnival? How? Any particular dishes that you relate to Carnival?
Some dishes instantly connect you to a certain place, memory or person. I remember my grandmother, Nonna Vanna making this little sweet balls, which she called Strufoli (that’s their name in Umbria) and covering them with loads of honey (she had a sweet tooth!) and colorful sprinkles for Carnival.
It’s interesting to see that this old Italian Carnival recipe, already found in cookbooks from the 17th century, has a lot in common with other typical Carnival food, like the German Krapfen, for example, also a sweet fried dough filled with apricot jam or vanilla custard.
The nature of those dishes has to do with the meaning of Carnival, a feast of abundance. Everything was allowed until Mardi Gras (literally translated “the Fat Tuesday”), 40 days before Easter a time known as a dark period of fasting and penitence. So enjoy those little babies in moderation, if you are not planning to fast afterwards! But try them out, they are delicious and the recipe is, as always, quick and simple.
- 500 g flour
- a pinch of salt
- 180 g of sugar
- 4 eggs
- 100 g of melted butter
- 100 ml of milk
- 16 g of baking powder
- oil for frying
- powder sugar or honey and sprinkles
- Mix the flour (500g), one pinch of salt and sugar (180g).
- Add the eggs (4), melted butter (100g), milk (100ml) and baking powder (16g) and mix well together. You can use a spoon or a mixer or a kitchen machine.
- Heat up frying oil in a deep pot, enough to deep fry the balls.
- Using two spoons, form some balls (half a tablespoon big) and drop them into the oil. They do not need to be perfect, just try to make them roundish with the help of the spoons.
- Fry 4 to 6 at a time, they will turn golden brown quickly, turn them around and then take them out and place them on kitchen paper to absorb the extra oil.
- Once you are finished frying and the balls have cooled down completely, sprinkle with powder sugar or cover with melted honey and colorful sprinkles.
This is the last recipe of our Italian culinary journey! We started in Genova with a Ricotta and Spinach Quiche, moved to Tuscany to savor some crunchy Cantucci biscotti, had my son’s favorite dessert Tiramisù and last week we stopped in Milan and Treviso for a creamy Risotto.
I hope you enjoyed the recipes and had a lovely time in Italy!