Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Italian Honey Balls

Happy Fat Tuesday where today I'm sharing with you an Italian tradition of what I grew up with called Honey Balls or as my Nonni called them Castoniole.

Italian Honey Balls | Cooking on the Front burner #honeyballs #castoniole

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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)

by Deb Attinella
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
  • honey
  1. Beat with fork the egg and milk
  2. Add the sugar and shortening
  3. Mix the flour and baking powder together than add to egg mixture
  4. Add lemon zest, anise seeds and vanilla and stir well
  5. 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)
  6. 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!!

Italian Honey Balls | Cooking on the Front Burner #honeyballs #castoniole


  1. How come I'd never heard of these? They look phenomenal Deb! I wouldn't be able to stop at one, for sure ;--) xx

  2. My friends in Abruzzo keep raving about these. I need to try some when I'm next over there!


  3. Oh, I love this, Deb! :) And I adore the handwritten recipe card- those are always fave family recipes. <3 Thank you for sharing this recipe with us all...

  4. Those look tantalizingly light and delicious Deb! Beautiful pics too!

  5. Wow, Deb, these look amazing! They remind me of the Greek donut-hole style dessert called loukoumades, and I love them! I love that recipe in your mother's handwriting -- that's so special to have!

  6. So, lately I've had this intense craving for melomakarona, which are a Greek honey-dipped cookie. I made them once and fell in love, but they're kind of labor-intensive. And now I'm craving these, too! I never fancied myself much of a honey lover, but that first photo with the honey dripping down the sides of the ball has me drooling!

  7. Oh my goodness, Deb, does this bring back memories for me, too, and makes me miss my childhood days! My grandmother made a version of these, too. I love seeing your recipe card - I totally love that I have recipes written by my mom and grandmother (though I have to stop dripping stuff all over them!) These look so great! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe, it's very special.

  8. These remind me of hushpuppies (the sweet kind) which I love! Your photos are beautiful (as always), I bet my family would love this recipe!

  9. Deb, These look delicious! I love that you are carrying on the tradition of your mother and grandmother with this sweet delight.

  10. These look incredible and so delicious Deb! Love family recipes like these, thank you so much for sharing with us :)

  11. such a treasure to have this traditional recipe passed down in your family

  12. I am your newest follower! Your Castoniole look like a version of zepole that my husband's grandmother used to make for us! Your sauce starts like hers as well! Many varieties of meat as a base and meatballs poached rather than baked or broiled! I thought I was the only one who still did my meatballs that way! Looking forward to future posts!

  13. i've never heard of these but any kind of dough especially with honey is OK by me! what region of italy is your family from?

  14. What a treasure! These sound incredible, Deb :)

  15. These awesome babies were totally featured today at Freedom Fridays With All My Bloggy Friends!!

    Thanks for sharing!!!



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