Carnival celebrations all over the world are usually accompanied by traditional sweets, pastries, cakes and cookies, which liven up parties animated by masks and confetti. In Italy especially, there are a great many Carnival recipes, handed down from generation to generation, and each region has its own kind of cookies and pastries, made by hand and at home.
Starting from the North, in South Tyrol there are Krapfen, Austro-Germanic sweets made using leavened and fried dough which is then dusted with sugar and stuffed with marmalade, cream or chocolate. In other words, classic “bomboloni” or doughnuts, traditionally made for Maundy Thursday.
The absolute masters of this feast are, beyond dispute, the Bugie di Carnevale, so called in Piedmont and Liguria, but spread throughout Italy, and also known as Cenci in Tuscany, Chiacchere in central and southern Italy, Cròstoli in the north, but also Frappe, Fiocchetti, Sfrappole, Gasse, Guanti, Maraviglias, Intrigoni, Rosoni, and much else besides. These are strips of a mix of flour, fried or baked in the oven, and then dusted with confectioner’s sugar. They have been served since the times of ancient Rome, when to celebrate what we now call Carnival, they used to prepare Frictilia, special sweets fried in fat. Depending on regional traditions, they may also be coated in honey, chocolate, alchermes or mascarpone.
Carnival pancakes are also widespread, sometimes called Castagnole, Favette, Fritole or Frittelle. They are little balls of egg, sugar, flour and butter, fried in boiling oil, stuffed with custard, rice, ricotta, apple or else left empty. They are so old, that descriptions of no less than four recipes have been found in an eighteenth century manuscript.
In Emilia and in Lombardy, Carnival is celebrated with Tortelli dolci, a mixture of short pastry stuffed with cream and fried, reminiscent of the Tortello salato in its shape, while Tuscany is famous for its Schiacciata alla fiorentina, a soft home-made cake, its Berlingozzo, an oven baked doughnut which takes its name from the fifteenth century mask of Berlingaccio, and the Brigidini, anisette-flavoured layers of flour and egg. The Marche combines masks with Arancini di Carnevale, made of layers of egg dough, rolled and twirled together, fried and then covered with honey, and Cicerchiata, the Carnival version of the Struffoli.
Finally, the famous Zeppole, prepared in many regions for the feast of Saint Joseph, but which in Sardinia, Marche and Umbria are a typical Carnival speciality. Called “Is tzippulas” in Sardinia and Zeppole in Marche, they are made with flour, yeast and water, fried and stuffed with custard, cream and chocolate. They used to be fried directly in the street, and near Naples, were used to celebrate Father’s day.
How about celebrate Carnival in Italy? February in Italy, the month of Carnival