Castagnole | Italian Carnevale Dessert
The Carnevale season is time of fried desserts in Italy, including these delicios "castagnole." Frying at home can seem daunting, but it's simpler than you might think. Give it a shot this year!
Castagnole can be filled with a variety stuffings (such as sweet ricotta or nutella) but we've included instructions for how to make a simple custard. The custard should be made in advance so it has time to cool.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
Makes about 20 castagnole, depending on how big you make them.
To make the custard, you will need:
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup (80g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
- 1 2/3 cup (400ml) whole milk
- A large slice of lemon peel
- A piping bag for filling
To make the castagnole, you will need:
- 1 cup (250ml) water
- 7 tbsp. (100g) butter
- 1 1/4 cups (150g) AP flour
- 4 large eggs
- Oil for frying (preferably a neutral oil, we use sunflower)
- Powdered sugar for topping
Begin by making the custard. In a saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture turns from yellow to off-white (using a hand mixer will speed things up). Add the flour and continue to mix until well-incorporated. Add the milk, a little bit at a time, while stirring with a whisk or spoon.
When all the milk is in, add the lemon peel and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens into a custard—about 10 minutes. Transfer into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap touching the surface, and let it cool completely.
On to the castagnole!
In a medium saucepan, add the water, butter and a pinch of salt. Place the pot over medium heat until the butter melts and the water begins to simmer. As soon as it does, add the flour and begin stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon.
The mixture will thicken into a dough quite quickly. Continue to stir and mix for about a minute. Turn off the heat and let the dough cool for about 10 minutes, or until it is no longer hot (warm is fine).
Add one egg into the dough and mix it in well. Once the egg is well-incorporated, add another egg and repeat. After all of the eggs have been mixed in, it's time to fry!
Fill a large, deep pan with 1-2 inches of oil and bring up to medium/high temperature. If you want to be very precise, use a thermometer to reach about 335 degrees F (170 C). We prefer just to drop in a small morsel of dough as a test: if it starts to bubble and fry immediately, the oil is ready!
Scoop up a small spoonful of dough. You can make the castagnole as big as you like, but we find that about half a heaping teaspoon works well. Pass the dough back and forth between two spoons until it forms a rough ball shape and drop it into the oil. Repeat until you have a batch of about 5-8 castagnole frying at once.
Fry the dough balls until they are golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel and repeat with another batch until all of the dough is fried.
Allow the castagnole to cool before filling them. Poke a small hole in each and use a piping bag to fill them with custard. Plate them on a large platter and dust with powdered sugar before serving.