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.
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!
- lemon zest
- anise seeds
- melted shortening
- vanilla extract
- oil for frying
I'm happy to share this typed recipe with you!
I 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!!
Get the Recipe
Italian Honey Balls
A traditional Fat Tuesday Italian treat
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- 2 heaping tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted shortening
- 1 ⅓ cup flour
- 2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
- ½ lemon grated zest
- 1 ½ teaspoon anise seeds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- vegetable oil for frying
- ½ cup honey
- 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/may flip itself as it fries)
- Remove from oil, place in bowl and drizzle warm honey over them
Nutrition Information:Yield: 18 Serving Size: 3
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 90Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 62mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 2g
Nutritional information provided is computer-generated and only an estimate. You may want to do your own research with the ingredients listed if you have concerns about health or specific diets.
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Lulu Abruzzo says
My friends in Abruzzo keep raving about these. I need to try some when I'm next over there!
Carrie R says
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...
Those look tantalizingly light and delicious Deb! Beautiful pics too!
Marcie FlavortheMoments says
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!
Consuelo @ Honey & Figs says
How come I'd never heard of these? They look phenomenal Deb! I wouldn't be able to stop at one, for sure ;--) xx
Lori @ Foxes Love Lemons says
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!
Cindy Eikenberg, Little Miss Celebration says
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.
simple and great!
Ann Jones says
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!
Joan / My Cookie Clinic says
Deb, These look delicious! I love that you are carrying on the tradition of your mother and grandmother with this sweet delight.
Kelly LifemadeSweeter says
These look incredible and so delicious Deb! Love family recipes like these, thank you so much for sharing with us 🙂
Chef Mireille says
such a treasure to have this traditional recipe passed down in your family
Pat Ombrello says
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!
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?
Jamie Sherman says
What a treasure! These sound incredible, Deb 🙂
Evelyn @ My Turn for us says
These awesome babies were totally featured today at Freedom Fridays With All My Bloggy Friends!!
Thanks for sharing!!!