Sunday, January 20, 2008

Carnevale is here!

As much as I try to limit the consumption of fried pastries from my daily diet, when Carnevale arrives, I don’t even make an effort. I crave for them and indulge myself with all the flavors I enjoyed during my childhood. After all, they are once a year holiday treats and, as a popular Italian proverb says, “In Carnival, everything goes” (“A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale”).
Last year I talked about Carnevale in Italy and shared my recipe for Chiachiere. This year I want to share with you my recipe for Castagnole.

Castagnole (Puffy Fritters)

These Carnival treats got their name because of their castagna (chestnut) shape and size. I prefer to eat them once they cool down, as they melt in your mouth, bringing out the delicate flavor of the anise liquor.

• 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ cup sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
• Pinch of salt
• 3 eggs
• 1 tablespoon anise seeds
• 1 tablespoon anise liquor
• ½ cup milk
• ½ cup oil for frying (olive or canola)
• Confectioners’ sugar to dust the castagnoli

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add eggs, liqueur, seeds, milk and oil and mix until you have a soft, smooth dough.

Wrap with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Cutting a piece of dough at a time, roll the dough to form 1-inch thick cylinders. Cut the cylinders in pieces the size of a large cherry and roll them between your hands to form little balls. To fry the castagnole, heat the oil to 360ºF.

Fry the castagnoli until golden brown. Place on a plate covered with paper towels.

Dust them with confectioners’ sugar and serve at room temperature.