These fritters are a specialty of the Veneto during Carnevale. Be warned, they are addictive!
Between Candlemas (2nd of February) and Martedí Grasso (Fat Tuesday) the Venetians celebrate Carnevale. The festivities are not the drunken bashes associated with Mardi Gras. The focus is on the beautiful costumes that recall the history of Venice. There are many costumes that would be considered performance art. When we lived in Vicenza teachers at the DOD school would take their students dressed as playing cards. One of my son's favorites was the group that came as a caterpillar, each person representing a section. It was odd seeing them separated from each other.
This is one of my favorite dolci recipes. The fritole are much more than a donut or a simple fritter. This Italian take on a familiar food is tantalizing and delicious.
- 1 1/4 cups + 2/3 cup milk
- l tsp salt
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1 ounce yeast (1-1/2 cakes)
- 1 tsp + 1 pinch sugar
- 3 1/2 cups flour, sifted
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup grappa (substitute rum if necessary)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/3 cup raisins
- cooking oil for deep frying
- powdered sugar
- Soak the raisins in the grappa.
- Break up the yeast in the 1/4 cup lukewarm water in a small bowl. Add a pinch of sugar and set aside. If the yeast is fresh, bubbles should begin to form immediately.
- Put the sifted flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix in 1 1/4 cups milk.
- Add the egg and mix well.
- While stirring, add the yeast-water mixture and an additional 2/3 cup milk.
- Continue stirring until smooth. This should be a very thick, doughy batter.
- Bubbles will start to form within the batter.
- Add the raisins, pine seeds, and remaining grappa and mix well.
- Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place it in a warm, draft free spot.
- Allow the batter to rise for about 3 hours.
- Fill a deep fryer or a saucepan half full of good cooking oil. Heat the oil to 375F.
- Wet a tablespoon with cold water. Scoop up the batter, and with a moistened a thumb, push the batter off the spoon into the hot oil (Be careful of the oil. By dropping the batter in close to the surface you will prevent splashing.)
- Repeat with 4 or 5 more spoonfuls of batter. Cook the fritter until it has an even deep golden brown color, turning it once or twice during cooking. The fritters should not be too big.
- Remove the fritters from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Cut open this test fritter to make sure that it is cooked through. If so, proceed as described above for the remaining batter, cooking 4 or 5 fritters at a time.
- When the fritters have cooled, roll them in powdered sugar and place on a platter.