I rarely write about desserts, let alone post recipes, because 1- I don't really like to make desserts (too much precision required), and 2- I live in Umbria - a region not particularly known for it's desserts, which tend to be on the dry and raisiny side... no canolis or rum babas here!
However, it is Carnevale, the season of sweets, the time to use up all of the sugar and lard in the house before the traditional Lenten fast; and even the Umbrians can pull out some awesome fried treats!
Lolida, the mother of my ex-business partner, was the de facto pastry chef of our restaurant (I could never seem to find the time to make desserts...), and she makes the best Frappe (pictured above) and Castagnole (traditional Carnevale treats) that I have ever eaten... and I've done some sampling...
Her recipe below differs from other Castagnole recipes in two ways: First, she uses olive oil instead of butter - we are in Umbria after all! and, second, the batter is much looser than that of other recipes I have seen - kind of a cross between very thick pancake batter and pasta dough - don't be afraid of it - the recipe is very easy and these little fried doughnuts come out lighter than air!
3 eggs, 3 Tbs sugar, juice of 1 orange, 5 Tbs Mistrá (you can substitute Sambuca), 4 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, zests of 1 orange & 1 lemon, 300g sifted flour, pinch of salt, 16g "lievito per dolci" or baking powder, oil or lard for frying, honey
In a bowl, mix together the first 6 ingredients. Then add the flour. Let the mixture sit for about 1 hour.
Heat up oil for frying in a pot over medium heat (the oil should be hot but not smoking) - you should have a depth of about 3 inches.
Add the salt and lievito/baking powder to the batter, mix well.
Using 2 spoons, drop about 1 Tbs of batter into the oil per time. They will puff up into round balls.
Fry until golden brown over medium heat, turning during the frying process
drain on paper towels
toss warm Castagnole in a bowl with a few spoons of fragrant honey
This recipe makes about 25... enough for 2 in my house ;-)
Originally posted February 2012