This is a very special time of the year for all Italian children: it is “Carnevale”, the time to wear costumes and parade in the streets playing tricks on other kids and throwing coriandoli (round shaped paper confettis) and stelle filanti (similar to paper streamers) everywhere. It is like Halloween but it lasts longer (about a week) and it is a crazy time of the year! I love it and it is one of the Italian holidays that I miss the most. As I am not there to enjoy the dress up parties and parades, I thought of at least enjoying some Carnevale food! During this period, we tend to eat lots of sweets and fried foods, because Carnevale comes right before the period of Lent during which Catholics usually fast (or eat less). As last year I shared with you the recipe for Chiacchiere, this time I am going to show you how to make another traditional sweet: tortelli di Carnevale, fluffy fried “puffs” coated in sugar. This recipe is for the tortelli that you eat in Milan. Every region has its own recipe with little differences, so I just want to be precise. This is also going to be this week’s Regional Italian dish… from my region: Lombardia (Lombardy). Put a mask on and… enjoy!!
Recipe adapted from Il Mondo di Luvi (original recipe by Sergio Salomoni)
Ingredients (makes about 30):
250 gms – 1 cup milk
250 gms – 1 cup water
50 gms – 1.75 oz. sugar
50 gms – 1.75 oz. butter
1 pinch salt
Zest of ½ lemon
150 gms – 5.25 oz. flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp rum
Vegetable oil for deep frying (I used sunflower oil)
Sugar to coat the tortelli
Put the milk, water, sugar, butter, salt and lemon zest in a pot (1) and bring to a boil (2). When boiling, remove the lemon zest and pour in the flour. Make sure to whisk continuously and very well so that you do not get any lumps (3). NOTE: if you still get lumps, you can always use a hand mixer to dissolve them. Cook on a low fire for 10 minutes, stirring continuously. Then remove from the fire and let it cool down. Transfer the mixture into the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment (4). Put the mixer on and add the eggs one by one (make sure the egg is completely absorbed by the batter before adding the next one). NOTE: you can also do this by just stirring with a wooden spoon. At the end, add the vanilla extract and rum (5). Mix well (6).
Cover the batter and let it rest for 1 or 2 hours.
Deep fry the tortelli by dropping spoonfuls of batter (the size of a walnut) in the warm vegetable oil. NOTE: the temperature of the oil is very important. It should remain constant at 170ºC – 340ºF. If the temperature is higher, the tortelli will brown too quickly and will remain raw inside, if the temperature is lower, the tortelli will get soggy and oily. I used a candy thermometer to measure the oil temperature and they came out perfect: soft and fluffy. Keep in mind that they will take about 4 to 5 minutes to cook and the tortelli will puff twice: at the beginning and then again towards the end.
When ready, put them on a plate covered with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil, and then roll them in sugar.
They are great warm or at room temperature.
They can be kept in an air tight container for 24 hours, but are best eaten the same day.
Buon Carnevale a tutti! Happy Carnevale everyone!
claudia lamascolo/aka pegasuslegend says
fabulous! someday I would love to be there during these times! I love the way yours look puffy, we still make them often using orange and rum instead of lemon and added cinnamon to the sugar on the outside, grandma was from Rome I guess the different Regions make different flavors… but lemon is awesome! These looks amazing!
Eating these the same day would be no problem. They look delicious!
Tortelli are wonderful! I miss them too! Last year I made some frittelle for Carvale, but I think I will pass this year
Kim Bee says
Okay these are so amazing. I am drooling all over the place. They look so sweet and yummy!
Tina (PinayInTexas) says
What a fun celebration…and the tortelli sounds like a wonderful way to enjoy it more!
Dear Manu, I was at a mask ball last week and I’m finally in Vienna now. I totally got my favorite Krapfen here after four years but your cute tortelli di Carnevales are much cuter and I would love to have a couple of those. Hope you enjoy the Carnival with your family. xoxo.
Eva kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com says
Even though it is deep fried it looks light as air. And so sparkly with the sugar coating.
Kiri W. says
We call this exact thing Mutzenmandeln in Germany! I looove these, they were such a huge part of my childhood. 🙂 Mmmm, now I’ll dream of home.
I don’t think we’d have a problem eating these the same day, more like a problem waiting for the dough to rest before frying!
Nuts about food says
Buon Carnevale! I grew up in Venice so to me tortelli are frittelle and chiacchiere are galani. I bought two trays over the week end to bring to friends and both times I got confused in the pastry shop and couldn’t remember the Milanese name of tortelli… so I just had to point at them. The sales ladies looked at me with a weird expression. Next time I will save mysellf the embarassment and make your recipe!
Congratulations on Today’s Top 9!
Geraldine Saucier says
Tortelli di Carnevale looks delicious. I can understand why Carnevale is a special time – dressing up and eating good food. Congratulations on Foodbuzz Top 9:)
O my goodness thank you so much for posting this! I studied in Milano last spring and basically lived off of these. They were my favorite treat in the entire world both vouti and with chocolato. I didn’t know they only made them up until carnivale so when they disapeared I was heartbroken! I’ve tried to find a good recipe and my roommate just forward yours to me! Grazie Mille.
Clare Bills says
These look wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing this cultural treat and congrats on being a food buzz top 9. Great job. Nana Clare’s Kitchen
Marsha @ The Harried Cook says
This is my kinda food! Love it… Sounds like a fun dish to keep popping in your mouth while enjoying carnevale 🙂 Great post, Manu! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Paolo @ DisgracesOnTheMenu says
Fantastic job – Manu! Such a classic holiday dessert 🙂
Catherine Daugherty says
Thanks for the awesome recipe and pictures! I plan to share them this week on my blog at http://www.praycookblog.com. Come take a look! Thanks!
These look melt in your mouth amazing!!
Rochelle (@AcquiredLife) says
Gorgeous! We have something here in Portugal called sonhos that are similar but don’t have the lemon zest and tend to include pumpkin into the batter. I think I’d probably like it better with the lemon like these 🙂
Spicie Foodie says
Sounds like next year I’ll need to go visit Italy during Carnevale. These treat look delicious. Thanks for being a part of the YBR Manu 🙂
Winelady Cooks says
These look light and crispy — I’ll have to try these for one of our family celebrations. A delicious treat everyone will enjoy!
Thanks for sharing,
Mary L Brown says
I’ve been looking for the recipe for these for about 15 years. Thank you so very much. My Nona’s English wasn’t very good although I really tried to figure out what told me but my Italian was worse than her English. Hers were airy like yours plus she used raisons soaked in Sparrone Marsalla. I didn’t let my dough rest plus they turned out greasy and almost flat shaped. Thanks to you I’ll be cooking with gas now. ; D ) P.S. Unfortunately my Nona has passed away now but her recipes were all safely tucked away in her memories.