A wonderfully authentic recipe for “Castagnole”, an Italian Fried Dough Balls recipe in the beautiful cookbook Tasting Rome. I added a Strawberry Rhubarb Compote to serve with it.
A few years ago, Frederick and I had the pleasure of going to Rome. I can’t remember falling in love with a city the way I fell in love with Rome. There is so much love and culture to be celebrated there. From the architecture and celebrated art to, of course, the food, I can see why I fell quick and hard.
When I received my talented friend Kristina Gill’s (Food and Drinks Editor for one of my absolute favorite websites Design Sponge) new cookbook with co-author Katie Parla called Tasting Rome, my love reignited in such a beautiful way. Flipping through the book, I knew this was something special and real. This book truly reveals a Rome we never hear about and see. Through the pages of this book, I experienced a truly exceptional city with so much depth, community and soul.
I knew that whatever I attempted to make would be very authentic. Being that desserts are my love language, I went straight for the Castagnole. It spoke to me. They looked like the most gorgeous fried dough holes I ever did lay eyes on. I didn’t know much about them so I did a little research on what these babies were. Apparently, they are best known as an Italian carnival treat. In Tasting Rome, I learned that Castagnole are sold in bakeries before Lent. Then I delved a little deeper and saw that their traditional Carnevale takes place right before Lent.
Starring at the photo in the cookbook, I could just imagine these luscious and sweet fried dough balls coming out of the grease nice and hot. Rolling them in sugar was the icing on the umm…. castagnole? They were amazing. The texture is quite lovely. The outside has a nice crunch while the inside is soft, tender and perfectly pillowy.
Because I had some leftover Strawberry Rhubarb Compote from the Riesling Rhubarb Crisp Cake I recently posted, I paired the fried dough balls with that, and it was a magical partnership. I dipped a few warm castagnole in the compote, and it was downright heavenly. They are wonderful on their own as well, but this makes the treat perfect for the spring season.
I cannot wait to try more authentic recipes in this book, and because I love “Tasting Rome” so so much, I am giving two away today old school style!!!!
Just leave me a comment below with your email address telling me why you want to win this book (could it be for the Castagnole recipe?), and I will pick two commenters at random. Contest ends Monday, May 9th!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of baking soda
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from ½ orange)
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons Sambuca
- 5 tablespoons sugar, plus more for coating
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup whole milk
- Neutral oil for frying
- Mix the flour, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, orange juice, lemon juice, Sambuca, sugar, vegetable oil, and milk in a large bowl until smooth.
- In a small pot or cast-iron skillet, heat 2½ inches of neutral oil to 350F over medium heat. Using a teaspoon or small ice cream scoop, scoop up a spoonful of batter, then carefully scrape it off with a second teaspoon into the hot oil.
- Cook the castagnole in batches of four or five for about 4 minutes, until a deep golden brown. Halfway through cooking, they will turn themselves over in the oil. Take care not to overcrowd the pan.
- Remove to a paper towel-lined tray or plate to drain, then roll them in sugar while they are still hot so that the sugar sticks.
- Castagnole are best eaten the day they are prepared, but they will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.