Castagnole are small doughnut balls that are usually eaten during the Carnival in Italy. They are widely enjoyed in northern and central Italy and their name derives from "castagne" (chestnuts in Italian) because they are pretty much the size of chestnuts.
If you have opportunity to visit Venice in February you should definitely try one of these tempting fritters from their bakeries and pastry shops. Otherwise, castagnole are very easy to prepare at home. Following this recipe you will get a bunch of castagnole crunch from the outside and soft and tender inside.
Freshly grated lemon zest gives a freshness to castagnole while a dash of rum gives a special kick. Instead of rum you can use any other liqueur - anise, strega, amaretto or others.
Castagnole comes in a many variations so they can be plain, filled with different kind of creams - crema pasticcera (Italian custard cream), chocolate cream, whipped cream etc.
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MAKES: 30 COOKS IN: 60 minutes DIFFICULTY: Easy
200 g plain flour
30 g caster sugar
100 g ricotta cheese
20 g butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
Grated zest of 1 orange or lemon
1 tablespoon of anise liqueur (or any other liqueur)
1 pinch of salt
Sunflower oil for frying
Caster sugar for rolling
Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and grated lemon zest in a medium bowl. Make a well in the centre and break the eggs into it.
Add the melted butter, ricotta and one tablespoon of desired liqueur and begin to stir all the ingredients with a spoon until roughly combined. Using your hands, knead the dough until you get a smooth dough. If too stiff, add 1 tablespoon of milk. If mixture is too soft add more flour. Wrap the dough in the cling film and let it rest at room temperature for about half an hour.
Heat sunflower oil in a deep saucepan until it reaches 175°C. Divide the dough into small balls of the size of chestnuts and fry them, a few at a time, until golden all around, for about 3-4 minutes. Once fried transfer them on a kitchen paper to drain. Roll castagnole into caster sugar while still warm and serve.
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