Castagnole for the Mardi Gras

So, today is Martedì Grasso (literally, Fat Tuesday, known in the US and the Commonwealth as Shrove Tuesday), the day that in Italy marks the end of the Carnival and precedes Ash Wednesday. Unlike Christmas or Easter, the Carnival is not a religious event, so the interpretation of what constitutes its apex is a matter of opinion. In Germany, for instance, people feast the Rosenmontag and in Scandinavia the Samladag on the Monday before Ash Wednesday.

This being Italy, there is the usual exception. Those who live in the province of Milan are allowed, for historical reasons having to do with an epidemic of plague, to stretch the Carnival until the Saturday after Ash Wednesday.

One thing that makes no exception is that the Carnival is a prime occasion to feast and eat to your heart’s content (and to your personal trainer’s job security).

Out of the innumerable carnival treats, we want to present today everyone’s favourite: the castagnole (small chestnuts), a recipe so complex even kids are allowed to implement.

You can enjoy the original recipe from Nonna Lella’s own cookbook stating ‘eggs, sugar, flour, like for the ciambellone but without butter’.

We did interview her and managed to extract some more precise indication

Here we go:

Apron-to-dish time: 5 minutes; SoHo time: 5 minutes.


  • 4 whole eggs
  • 500g white flour
  • 250g white sugar
  • 1 lemon peel, grated
  • milk, half a glass
  • 2 spoonfuls of olive oil
  • vanilline (vanilla extract), one packet or one teaspoonful
  • one pinch of baking soda

Use a large bowl. The resulting mix should be very liquid, definitely not like a dough.

In a large pan, heat frying oil. Pour half spoonfuls of mix in the oil. Lower the heat or they will turn black very fast. They should fry until deep golden, which will take at most two minutes.

Pull from the pan and lie on frying paper, sprinkle with icing sugar.

Eat immediately (guests will usually not wait for you to suggest this).


  1. Hello Sandra, you are right: it depends on the glass. Or the granny.
    I would say half a glass is 100ml, BUT in granny speak “half a glass” really means:
    put as much milk as needed to get the mix fluid enough, and not more.
    Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s