Venetian Carnival Fritters, or Fritole Veneziane, are the typical bite-size sweets served all around Venice during Carnival.
Around 3 weeks prior to Ash Wednesday, in fact, Italians start celebrating Carnevale with a grand deal of parties and masquerades everywhere. This annual festivity is celebrated all across Europe and in many other countries of Catholic heritage. Carnival celebrations culminate with Martedμ Grasso, or Fat Tuesday, the last day of allowed merriment and indulgence before the beginning of Lent.
From cheerful confetti throwing to less innocent pranks, all sorts of playful mischief and shenanigans are allowed and expected for Carnival in Italy and there is even an old traditional saying to confirm it: A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale, any joke goes during Carnival.
Venetians are particularly renowned for their big and spectacular way of celebrating Carnival, attracting tourists and party-goers not just from Italy but from all over the world. Concerts and elegant costume balls take place in many of the ancient palaces of the city, while everywhere else anyone can join one the many street parties, like in the beautiful Piazza San Marco, where for the occasion many wear beautiful period costumes and traditional masks in an extravagant competition of colors and creativity.
Carnival in Venice can be a great and colorful experience. Wherever you are, this Venetian Carnival Fritters recipe is to wish you all a joyful Carnival time.
Ingredients and Instructions (for about 45 fritole):
3 1/2 cups of flour, sifted
1 (3/4 ounce) package of dry yeast
2 cups of milk
l teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of lukewarm water
1 ounce of yeast (1-1/2 cakes)
2 teaspoon of sugar plus
1 extra pinch of sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup of grappa (if unavailable, use brandy or rum)
1/3 cup of pine nuts
1/3 cup of raisins
1/3 cup of candied citrus, finely chopped
vegetable oil for frying
powdered sugar for dusting
1. Let the raisins soak in the grappa for at least one hour.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the cup of lukewarm water, add a little pinch of sugar and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes, at which point the mix should become quite bubbly.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sifted flour with the salt, then pour in the milk and mix well.
4. Add the egg and mix well again, then finally add the yeast and continue mixing until a fairly smooth but very thick batter is obtained.
5. Add the raisins with the grappa and mix well, then cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm spot for where the batter can rise for at least a couple of hours or until it has doubled its size.
6. Ad this point, add the pine nuts and the candied citrus bites and combine well.
7. Fill a deep frying pan with vegetable oil, up to ½ of its height, and heat it well. If using a deep frying thermometer, the temperature should be around to 375 F (190 C).
8. Using 2 slightly oiled spoons, scoop a bit of the batter with one and, with the help of the other one, gently push and let the batter slip into the hot oil.
Warning: to avoid getting burned by dangerous splashes of hot oil during this step, carefully get the spoons as close as possible to the surface of the oil before dropping in the batter.
9. Repeat the above step and fry a small batch of 4 or 5 fritole for about 2 minutes, turning them around a couple of times, until well puffed and golden brown.
10. Meanwhile, prepare a tray or large dish with plenty of paper towels on it and, when ready, remove the fritole from the oil, transfer them over to it and let them drain. Test one of the fritole to see that they are fully cooked inside and correcting the frying time as needed repeat the exact same procedure with the rest of the batter, as per steps 7-8.
11. Transfer the fritters to a serving plate; dust them with abundant powdered sugar and serve, possibly still warm to enjoy them at their best.
Cinzia Aversa, 2014