Castagnole di Carnevale, a Delicious Mardi Gras Dessert!

Castagnole di Carnevale are a wonderful treat for Mardi Gras!

Castagnole di Carnevale
Italian tradition has it that just before the forty days of lent when one feels compelled to give up tasty goodies, is the time to indulge in sweet, fried foods. Castagnole have been part of this tradition since the 17th century, along with frappe and a number of other sweet treats that vary according to the region you are from.

Yesterday was Mardi Gras (martedí grasso), which happened to coincide with a once per month Advanced Cooking group I run. We opted to make Carnival treats and the tastiest by far were the castagnole.

There are many variations to the classic castagnole recipe: some use liqueur instead of milk, some fill the castagnole with cream, some make them savory instead of sweet.

The recipe we used was quite wonderful, and the orange zest turned the castagnole into something magical!

Here’s the recipe…

Castagnole di Carnevale

Serves 4-6

Castagnole are a delicious donut-like fried dessert, particularly when abundantly sprinkled with sugar.
These are similar to what Americans know as donut holes.

Ingredients

Flour, 250 grams (8.8 ounces / 2 cups)
Potato starch, 50 grams (1 3/4 ounces)
Baking powder, 4 grams (1 teaspoon)
Sugar, 70 grams (2 1/2 ounces / 1/3 cup)
Orange zest, from 1 untreated orange
Egg, 1 large
Milk, 60 milliliters (1/4 cup)
Butter, softened 50 grams (1 2/5 ounces / about 1/3 cup)
Vanilla extract, (1 teaspoon)
Salt, a pinch
Oil for frying, preferably peanut oil
Sugar, enough to sprinkle on the castagnole

Cooking Instructions

Sift the flour, potato starch and baking powder directly onto your work surface.
Make a well in the flour mixture and add the remaining ingredients, except for the frying oil and sugar for sprinkling.

Castagnole ingredients
Whisk the ingredients together with a fork, and once they are fairly well incorporated, begin kneading the dough.
Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic.
Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for an hour.
Pinch off small pieces of dough (about 10 grams / 1/3 ounce each) and roll into small balls.

Castagnole ready to be fried

Each ball should be about 2 centimeters / 3/4 inch in diameter.
Heat the oil to 175°C before you begin frying.
Make sure that the temperature doesn’t go above 175°C the whole time you are frying. Otherwise you run the risk that they will be too brown on the outside and raw on the inside.
Have enough oil in the frying pan so the castagnole are almost fully immersed.
Fry the donut holes for several minutes, until golden, turning frequently so they fry evenly.
Frying castagnole

Drain the donut holes on newspaper covered with paper towels.
Toss in sugar and serve!

Castagnole di Carnevale

Castagnole: a Delicious Carnival Dessert!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Castagnole are a typical Italian Carnevale treat dating back to the 17th century. They are a delicious donut-like fried dessert, particularly when abundantly sprinkled with sugar. Castagnole are similar to what Americans know as donut holes.
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Ingredients

  • 250 grams Flour 250 8.8 ounces / 2 cups
  • 50 grams Potato starch 50 1 3/4 ounces
  • 1 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 70 grams Sugar 70 (2 1/2 ounces / 1/3 cup)
  • Orange zest from 1 untreated orange
  • 1 Egg, large
  • 60 milliliters Milk 1/4 cup
  • 50 grams Butter, softened 1 2/5 ounces / about 1/3 cup
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • a pinch Salt
  • Oil for frying preferably peanut oil
  • Sugar enough to sprinkle on the castagnole

Instructions

  1. Sift the flour, potato starch and baking powder directly onto your work surface.
    Castagnole ingredients
  2. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the remaining ingredients, except for the frying oil and sugar for sprinkling.
  3. Whisk the ingredients together with a fork, and once they are fairly well incorporated, begin kneading the dough.
  4. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic.
  5. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for an hour.
  6. Pinch off small pieces of dough (about 10 grams / 1/3 ounce eacand roll into small balls.
    Castagnole ready to be fried
  7. Each ball should be about 2 centimeters / 3/4 inch in diameter.
  8. Heat the oil to 175°C before you begin frying the castagnole.
  9. Make sure that the temperature doesn’t go above 175°C the whole time you are frying. Otherwise you run the risk that the castagnole will be too brown on the outside and raw on the inside.
  10. Have enough oil in the frying pan so the castagnole are almost fully immersed.
  11. Fry the castagnole for several minutes, until golden, turning frequently so they fry evenly.
    Frying castagnole
  12. Drain the castagnole on newspaper covered with paper towels.
  13. Toss in sugar and serve!

 

 

Mardi Gras Castagnole, a delicious and easy-to-make dessert!

 

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