Carnevale (also known as Carnival, Carnaval, Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday): the word itself comes from Latin, “Carne Vale” or “Farewell to the Flesh,” and refers to the week preceding Lent, a Catholic period of 40 days of fasting, personal reflection, and abstinence until Easter. Countries with large Catholic populations (Brazil, Italy, Mexico, the US, and really most of Latin America) generally have some type of celebration right before Lent.
Recently I was talking with my friend Laura Rossi, from Como, Italy. She offered to share her recipe for chiacchiere. Chiacchiere is a fried dough, doused with powdered sugar, that is typically made before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is made all over Italy, and is known by many different names, depending on the region. It is filled with indulgent ingredients that might be eliminated during Lent: sugar, white flour, butter, rum. This recipe is a delicious way to follow the global tradition of indulging before the fast.
14 ounces (~3c) of flour
2 tsp baking soda
1.7 ounces of sugar (a little less than 1/4 c)
3 and half oz butter
¼ tsp salt
Half glass of liquor (rum is perfect)
Place the flour/baking soda on a flat surface, and make a hole in the middle. In that hole put eggs, melted butter, sugar, salt and liquor. Work everything together with your hands, until it’s hard but not too much (dough should be sticky), and let it rest for a couple of hours. (I put mine in the fridge, to protect it from my very curious dogs).
Fry the rectangles in a pan with olive oil (peanut oil works as well) until they become of a gold color, remove them from the pan and let them rest on paper towels to absorb the oil. When they cool, put some sugar powder on top, and enjoy!
Here is a video I found to make your chiacchiere much prettier than mine: