Castagnole (sweet dough balls)

Here in Italy it is that time of the year again.  Carnevale is probably one of the biggest holidays of the year, except that it lasts 2 weeks. It is a very pleasant time mainly for children, who wear costumes and celebrate with their parents in the local town square.

Carnevale starts 2 weeks before the beginning of Lent and ends on shrove tuesday (or pancake tuesday as I remember well).  Waking up this morning I was reminded by my daughters  and husband that shrove tuesday was just around the corner and shouldn’t I get a start on those castagnole?  This is a traditional sweet treat made only during this time of the year. Deliciously crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Easy to make and a pleasure to eat.



Castagnole (sweet dough balls)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These delicious sweet treats are called castagnole for their shape, because castagnole in english means chestnut.
Recipe type: desserts
Serves: 25-30 castagnole
  • 1½ cups (200 grams) flour
  • ½ tablespoon (8 grams) baking powder
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1¼ teaspoons (3.5 grams) cinnamon*
  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) softened butter
  • zest of ½ a lemon
  • ½ teaspoon (5grams) vanilla
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • powdered sugar for dusting

  1. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the middle and add sugar, eggs, softened butter, lemon zest and vanilla. Mix together with hands to form a soft and smooth dough. Knead for a couple of minutes. Cutting a piece of dough at a time, roll the dough to form a 1 inch (2 centimeter ) thick rope. Cut the rope in pieces the size of large (I cut mine very large) cherries and roll between your hands to form balls (see photo).
  2. Meanwhile, start heating the oil (in a large fryer or deep pot), make sure the temperature remains between 300 and 325° (150-160°), too high and they cook on the outside but not in the middle. Once oil is at the correct temperature, fry a few castagnole at a time, till they are golden brown and nicely puffed. Approximately 2 minutes, but turn often so they brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels, when cooled (at least slightly) dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy.
  3. * If you wish instead of the cinnamon you can add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of rum or anise (aniseed) liqueur.



Comments, your thoughts are welcome.