This sweet treat was always made before the first day of lent started as a last indulgence before the fasting of lent began - made either on Fat Tuesday or a few days before. I remember the anticipation of them and watching my grandmother and my mom make these. These hot donut-like balls would be placed in a large bowl and warm honey poured all over them! I really have fond memories of these times back in the day. I am keeping the tradition alive by making them for us which is normally just the DIY Guy and myself. But this past weekend Kristina, Benj and Emily were in town and were able to dig in with us! (Though not Emily - no honey for babies under a year!)
I still follow this recipe in my mom's handwriting and you can tell it is quite loved and used!
I'm happy to share this typed recipe with you!
Honey Balls (Castoniole)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: about 5 minutes
Yield about 18
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 heaping tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted shortening
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 lemon grated zest
- 1 1/2 tsp anise seeds
- 1 tsp vanilla
- vegetable oil for frying
- Beat with fork the egg and milk
- Add the sugar and shortening
- Mix the flour and baking powder together than add to egg mixture
- Add lemon zest, anise seeds and vanilla and stir well
- Heat oil in a medium size sauce pan (about 5" of oil) to 350 degrees and drop a rounded tablespoon of dough - cook until light brown (the ball will flip itself as it fries)
- Remove from oil, place in bowl and drizzle warm honey over them
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Now I do think there are many variations of this traditional Italian dessert. I found a spelling of Castagnole that is very similar to what these are. I'm sure each region of Italy had a slight variation of this treat.
I always eat way too many - when you only get them once a year, you sure want to get your fill!!