Villa Pedossa – Your Country Escape

From the Blog


Carnival arrives with its unmistakable parade of colourful floats, costumes, masks, ticker tapes and…delicious sweets!

Carnevale, like Mardi gras in other parts of the world, is celebrated in Italy forty days before Easter, as a final party before Ash Wednesday and the restrictions of Lent. During this celebration it is particularly allowed to feast and break some rules, actually more than any other period of the year, especially when it comes to dieting: and nobody can resist to all the delicacies so popular during Carnival time!
Being a century-old tradition, many are the celebratory foods and recipes which features sweets like the ‘chiacchiere’ which are prepared throughout Italy but most of the sweets have a regional or local origin.

Only with the recipes from Le Marche we could fill a book, but here we would like to limit ourselves only to those  typical family recipes which are part of our family story from the beginning and that every year renew the magic of becoming kids again. Then here you are Mom Gabri‘s recipe of the Castagnole, those little fried balls slightly crispy outside which melt in your mouth. Yum-yum!

They are the quintessential local Carnival sweets: their simple ingredients recall the humble origins of this dessert that, as it often happens when it comes to recipes with deep roots in tradition and history, conceal in their simplicity pure goodness.

4 eggs
150 g butter
00 flour as needed (about 300 g)
grated zest of one lemon
1 sachet baking powder (16 g)
granulated sugar as needed
a pinch of salt
50 ml milk
50 ml anise liqueur
peanut oil for frying


1. Separate egg whites from the yolks and put them in different mixing bowls. Whip the egg whites until stiff and foamy. Whip the egg yolks.

2. In a pan melt butter into milk and let it cool. Then, in a mixing bowl, pour the butter, milk and add the egg yolks and later the egg whites, one at a time. Mix and wait until the eggs are well amalgamated before the next step.

3. Add the grated zest of the lemon, the baking powder, a pinch of salt, the anise liqueur (add this lastly to avoid that the dough deflates) and pour enough flour to make the dough soft and homogeneous. In the meantime heat the peanut oil for deep-frying.

4. Use a teaspoon to scoop up a spoonful of dough to form small balls and with the help of another teaspoon let them gentlty fall into the abundant hot oil one at a time. Fry them for few minutes making sure you move the pan around until they turn gold and not burn.

5. Remove the fried balls from frying oil using a skimmer and drain them on kitchen paper.

6. Once lukewarm roll them around in sugar (if you prefer you can sprinkle them with powdered sugar). Your yummy castagnole are now ready to be served (you can serve them lukewarm or cold)!

Usually these fried balls are small enough to be eaten in a single mouthful, that is to say of the ideal sweet snack size. But, if you wish, you can make them a little bit bigger like beignets and serve them as a real tasty dessert.

The castagnole, according to our family recipe but also to the traditional one, are served empty but as an alternative they can be stuffed with custard or whipped cream. Our advice is to try all the variants, after all, it is Carnival time! 😉