Carnival Sweets for Fat Tuesday ~ Castagnole, Italian Fritters
What better way to celebrate Carnival & Fat Tuesday than with fritters fried in pork fat! Castagnole are a specialty of Carnevale and eaten across Italy during this period. Pastry shops are filled with Italian fritters drizzled in honey or rolled in sugar with the ruby colored alkermes liquor atop.
The name castagnole derives from the word castagna or chestnut because of the color & size when cooked. I prefer them drizzled in lots of honey, but traditionaly in our area they are rolled in sugar & drizzled with the liquor alkermes - giving it that bright red color.
Don't be put-off by frying with lard, as this is the traditional method & its just freakn' delicious! The good Doctor Gaggi recommends frying in strutto and this is coming from a Cardiologist! It is possible to fry them in oil, however in his opinion, "Then they would not be castagnole!"
You only eat it once a year - so dig in!
400 gr. or 4 scant cups of flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 glass or 1/4 cup liquor (we use rosolio but anice, cognac or rum can work as well)
grated zest of a lemon
1 packet of "lieveto per dolce" or 1.5 tablespoons of baking powder
enough fat to fry in - we use strutto (lard) but you can use vegetable oil as well.
Pile flour in the middle of your cutting board and with your finger tips, make a large well in the center.
Crack eggs into the middle of the well along with olive oil, sugar, lemon & leavening agent. With a fork, beat the eggs slowly drawing in flour from the edges of the well.(As you would with making pasta dough).
When all the flour is incorporated, knead the dough 2-3 times. You should have a very soft shiny dough. (Do not overwork the dough or it will become tough - NO MIXER) Rub dough with olive oil & cover with plastic or a kitchen towel and allow to rest for at least 1 hour.
Bring a large pot with fat up to temperature of 350F/180C. With a little oil on a knife cut off about a chestnut size piece of dough. (30gr or so)
Flatten out dough into irregular disk or rectangle shapes with your fingers. Fry in hot fat, turning regularly until golden brown. Castagnole will puff up as they cook. Remove from pot, blot on paper towel, roll in sugar & drizzle with alkermes OR just drizzle with honey and enjoy!
Ashley Bartner is the Living in Italy Editor for Wandering Educators. You can find her recipes, photos, and more at: