Carnevale: Coriandoli e Stelle Filanti – Confetti and Streamers

Article published by l’Italo Americano on February 13th, 2015 by Adri Barr Crocetti :

Merrymakers, masquerades and music. People stroll the streets greeting one another, tossing confetti and streamers. It’s Carnevale, time to cast off one’s troubles and indulge in all the richness Italy and her cooks have to offer.

There are Castagnole, irresistible little chestnut-size balls of dough, fried in hot oil and rolled in powdered sugar. Perhaps the simplest fried dough is one known by many names – Crostoli, Chiacchiere, Frappe and Sfrappole are but a few.

A simple dough, often laced with liquor, these fried pastries are enjoyed by Italians from one end of the country to the other. Whether cut into plain strips or formed into angel wings or lover’s knots, each region proudly serves its own unique version of this perennial favorite.

Another Carnevale delight, one that pairs particularly well with fried pastries, is Sanguinaccio. This sumptuous chocolate is too thick to drink.

Instead, dip the pastries into it or savor it with a spoon. Served warm or at room temperature it is reminiscent of a rich American pudding. In some areas of Italy, Sanguinaccio is so thick it is formed into a salami-like shape. With a history that reaches back hundreds of years, this food was traditionally made with pig’s blood, a product of the winter slaughter. Thick and satiny, with a hint of exotic spices, it is the epitome of the rich foods of Carnevale.

Today Sanguinaccio made with pig’s blood is regarded as something of a relic, with most cooks opting out of the ensanguined version. Yet it remains one of Carnevale’s iconic foods, a fitting tribute to both the past and the pig.

serves 4 or more, depending on serving size
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1 cup sugar
• ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• Pinch of fine sea salt
• 1½ cups whole milk
• 1½ cups heavy cream
• 4 large egg yolks
• 1 vanilla bean
• 4 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, chopped finely
• Candied orange zest or lightly sweetened whipped cream, to garnish, if desired

Pour the milk into a 2-quart saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the saucepan and add the bean. Heat over a medium flame until small bubbles form around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat. Cover and set aside to steep for 20 minutes.

Blend the cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the cream, and combine. Add the egg yolks and beat well. Slowly pour all of the hot milk over the cocoa mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Stir over a medium-low flame until it thickens and comes to a boil, about 7 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler.

Remove the milk mixture from the heat. Remove and discard the vanilla bean. Add the melted chocolate, stirring until smooth. Pour into serving cups. Garnish with candied orange zest or sweetened whipped cream, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. To make ahead: press plastic wrap on the surface of the warm Sanguinaccio to prevent formation of a skin. Refrigerate. Remove plastic wrap and reheat gently in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds.

serves 8
• 2 ⅓ cups plus 1 tablespoon tipo 00 flour
• ½ cup minus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• pinch of fine sea salt
• 3 ounces unsalted butter, softened
• ¼ cup dark rum or Tuaca
• 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia
• zest of 2 oranges
• Powdered sugar for dusting
• Vegetable oil for frying
• Pour 4 inches of oil into a large pan. Heat to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat in the butter. Add rum, vanilla, Fiori di Sicilia and the orange zest. Continue beating until smooth. Use a teaspoon measure ice cream scoop to drop the dough into the oil. Fry until puffed and golden, turning to promote even coloring. Drain on paper towels. Dust liberally with powdered sugar, and serve warm.

Fiori Di Sicilia, a citrus-vanilla extract with floral notes, is available from

makes about 3 dozen
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• 1 large egg
• 1 large egg yolk
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• ¼ cup grappa
• ¼ cup Marsala
• Pinch fine sea salt
• Powdered sugar for dusting
• Vegetable oil for frying

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, egg and yolk, butter, grappa, wine, and salt in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal knife. Process until the mixture comes together and forms a ball.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap and roll to ⅛ to 1/16th-inch thickness, flouring the dough and work surface as needed. Cut the dough into 1½×4-inch rectangles using a fluted pastry wheel. Cut a slit down the center length of each rectangle, and pull one end through the slit. In a large pan heat 4 inches of oil to 375 degrees F. Fry 3 or 4 Chiacchiere at a time until puffed and lightly golden, turning with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels. Dust liberally with powdered sugar before serving.

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[carnevale, carnival, sweets, italo-americano, italoamericano, food, italian-recipes, recipe]

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