In Italy we have sweets and cakes for every occasion. Whether we have to honor a patron saint or the remembrance of an olden battle, we have plenty of greedy treats to celebrate it properly.
The Carnevale is one of those festivities and everything must be rigorously fried. So forget your diet and guilt, and simply enjoy the pletora of dolci before Quaresima (Lent).
Le chiacchiere (the chitchat)
When we think of Carnevale, we cannot but mention this pastry with all its different names around the Italian peninsula. Chiacchiere in Campania, Sicily and Umbria, frappe in Lazio and in Marche, bugie (lies) in Liguria and in Piedmont, cenci in Tuscany, fiocchetti in Romagna, meraviglias in Sardegna, galani in Venice and crostoli in Veneto and Friuli.
In fact, the recipe is the same everywhere in Italy: a dough made of flour, butter and wine. The puff pastry has to be thin and must be fried until golden in a big pan of boiling oil. You can sprinkle them with powdered sugar.
These sweets derive their name from their round shape, similar to that of a walnut. The dough is made of flour, sugar and eggs. Again, they are fried and served with some powdered sugar on top. Sometimes they can be filled with creme pat or chocolate.
In Venice, the fritole are some very serious business. So serious that in the olden days a corporation, that of the fritoleri (pastry friers), was founded. Texture and shape are not too different from those of the castagnole, but in the orginal recipe some pine nuts and raisins are added too. In terms of size, rules are strict: the fritole must be 4 cm in diameter.
In Naples, for Christmas and Carnival, one must have a handful of struffoli. Struffoli are little balls with a tender heart seasoned with candied fruit, and sugar decorations. Made of flour, water, butter and eggs, struffoli are served covered in greedy honey.
Ravioli dolci di Carnevale (Carnival sweet dumplings)
The ravioli dolci are usually found in Emilia Romagna, Sardinia and Marche, presenting some different versions based on the region. In Marche for example the puff pastry made of mulled wine, water and flour can be paired with some creme pat or chestnut creme.