An authentic Italian dessert recipe called Castagnole, a soft sweet fried dough balls covered in caster sugar. An easy Italian sweet pastry made during Carnival time, so good that you will ask for more!
Why you'll love it
- Effortless dessert;
- Scrumptious and inviting texture;
- Addictive sweet;
- Perfects for kids parties or adults;
This Italian fried dough dessert is the perfect morsel sweet thanks to its ball shape. It has a super pillowy texture on the inside with a hint of lemon and vanilla flavor. While the outside is crunchy and sugary, a true pleasure at every bite! They are so good that they will be gone in a flash, no wonder why they are the quintessential dessert of the Carnival in Italy.
If you are looking for more Italian traditional recipes you are in the right place. For a delicious breakfast try this famous almond biscotti or this fudgy chocolate cake. Also, for more savory food try this traditional stuffed zucchini flower, or learn how to make homemade pasta just with a rolling pin, you will be amazed how simple it is.
The batter for this Italian fried dough dessert is quite runny, more like a cake batter. This will give a soft crumb with air bubbles to the castagnoli. The sweet batter is dropped very gently into the hot oil with a help of two spoons, soon you will see that the fried dough is starting to rise to the shape of a ball with some long twigs. This can be removed once is cooled off. To finish, roll the ball into the sugar for a more crunchy texture.
The ingredients needed to make these Italian fried dough dessert balls are generally handy in your pantry and fridge. However, if you don't have them I recommend popping in your local store with your shopping list on hand. Believe me, it will be worth it.
Flour- use plain flour.
Sugar- caster sugar is combined with the other dry ingredients.
Leavening agent- this recipe uses a small amount of baking powder. It will help the castagnole to rise during the frying time and to become soft.
Aroma- use unwaxed lemon zest and vanilla seeds.
Milk- use cold whole milk. The milk is poured straight into the dry ingredients along with the eggs.
Eggs- use two medium free-range or organic eggs. I suggest using room temperature ones. If they are in the fridge leave them on your kitchen counter for 30 minutes before using them.
Salt- enhances the flavor.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTION*
*Note: this is just a quick introduction. Please read the recipe card for the full instructions.
You will literally need one medium bowl to combine all the ingredients, I am not joking. Not to mention that you can always let your kids help you with the mixing parts, it will be a nice activity to do together. The photos step by step will guide you to see how to make this scrumptious castagnole.
Add the flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and baking powder to a medium bowl. Wisk to combine.
Pour the milk, eggs, and vanilla seeds into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Wisk very quickly until combined.
Add the sunflower oil into a tall pot with a thicker base and heat* until 170°C. With the help of two spoons drop gently the batter into the oil and let cook for 8/9 minutes.
*Note: I suggest you use a kitchen thermometer to check the temperature of the oil to achieve perfect fry.
Once ready remove the castagnole from the oil and place them on kitchen paper. Now roll them into the sugar while they are still warm but not piping hot. Or simply dust them with some powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
With this recipe, you will obtain 26 castagnole, but if you want to make a small batch go ahead and halve the ingredients, the results will not change. Moreover, why don't make these sweet fried dough balls even more libidinous? Here I have listed some of my favorite variations for you to try out.
Chocolate- add into the batter 60 gr of dark chocolate chips or alternatively some finely chopped chocolate bar. Also, try adding some white chocolate to it.
Raisins- soak 50 gr of raisins into warm water with 2 spoons of rum for about 15 minutes. Drain them properly and add them into the batter. You will have deliciously soft and exotic castagnoli.
Fillings- once the castagnole are warm, fill them with some custard using a piping bag by poking a hole. Also, serve them with some jam, like strawberry or cherries.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How to store Italian fried dough desserts?
Like all the fritters are better eaten while are still warm. However, you can store the leftover in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature. Although they will still be edible after the third day, they will get harder and therefore less enjoyable.
Can I reheat these sweet fried dough balls?
Yes, of course. Just preheat the oven at 180°C fans (200°C/ 6 gas mark/ 360°F) and baked them for 8 minutes. Rolled them again into sugar or simply dust them with some powdered sugar. They will turn super soft and crunchy again. Serve immediately.
Can I bake the castagnole instead of frying it?
No, I would suggest baking them as the dough has a batter texture and it will not rise into balls shape.
Italian fried dough dessert
- 1 Medium Bowl
- 1 Balloon whisk
- 1 Medium tall pot H 11 - Ø 20 top - Ø 15 bottom
- 1 Skimmer
- 2 Spoons
- 460 gr plain flour previously stiffed
- 120 gr caster sugar
- 10 gr baking powder previously stiffed
- 1 unwaxed lemon Zest grated
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 medium eggs room temperature 106 gr
- 300 gr whole milk cold
- 1 tablespoon vanilla seeds
- 1 lt sunflower oil
- 50 gr caster sugar or dust them with a few spoons of powdered sugar
- 60 gr dark chocolate chips to add in the batter
Make the batter
- Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk with a balloon whisk for few seconds.
- Pour the milk, eggs, and vanilla seeds into the dry ingredients. Whisk for a few seconds with a balloon whisk until you have a smooth batter. Don't over mix.
- If you want to make them chocolaty, add the chocolate chips into the batter, and whisk quickly.
- Add the sunflower oil to a tall pot with a thicker base. Place the pot over high heat and let the oil reach the 170°C/338°F. Use a kitchen thermometer to check the temperature of the oil.
- Once the oil has reached the right temperature, turn the heat down to medium-low. Scoop the batter with one spoon and very gently slide the batter into the oil with the help of the other spoon. Don't overcrowd the pan with too many balls. Just fry three balls for each batch, this will cook them evenly.
- The batter will float immediately into the oil and it will rise into a ball shape. Turn them upside down after 3 minutes and keep turning them occasionally. Fry the balls for a total of 8/9 minutes for each batch. They will be ready when they will have a golden color.
- Drain the balls from the oil with a skimmer and drop them into a tray with some kitchen paper.
Dust into sugar
- Roll them into the sugar while they are still warm but not piping hot. Or simply dust them with some powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
MAKING THIS? I'D LOVE TO SEE IT!
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Yumm these turned out so good! Gonna try some of the suggested variations next time, especially chocolate sounds so goood. Thank you for the great recipe
Hi Bianca!! Yes, this is so yummy and the chocolate variation is soo indulgent!! Thank you for your comment!
My grandmother and mother made this dessert for us all the time growing up. We called it "Fritelle". They were both born and raised in Piemonte and lived in Genova. Do you think it makes a difference in the name where you are located?
Your recipe is so good and I also added apple chunks to the batter.
Thank you for bringing back such fond memories of a bygone era.
Thank you for trying my recipe. I am so happy that my recipe was able to bring you back to a treasured memory. Yes, every region in Italy may have slightly different desserts for Carnival and they are called by different names. Your family versions with the apple chunks must be so delicious.