About this dish

  • Serves: 15 or more
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Method: stovetop

“Aunt Dorothy’s Recipe”

“kaas-taan-yoh-lee”: Italian for “chestnuts”, for their shape. Small dough-balls made for Shrove Tuesday (Mardi-Gras), the day before the beginning of Lent. A sweet indulgence before the abstinence of Lent.

Aunt Dorothy was one of six children (four girls, two boys) living in the small towns around Scranton, Pennsylvania, sibling to my paternal grandmother, Antoinette (“Nonni”). This is her recipe for Castagnoli, as first transcribed by my mother. I have indicated my clarifications to the recipe below.


  • ¬†4 eggs (large or extra large)
  • 2 C flour (needs about 3/4 C more, add as indicated)
  • 1/4 C melted butter (no substitution – it’s Mardi Gras!)
  • 5 T sugar
  • lemon rind (medium to big lemon)
  • 2 t baking powder salt (I guessed 1 teaspoon, based on the eggs)
  • 1 jigger of whiskey (1/8 C, or 1 oz. Can substitute rum)
  • cooking oil (canola, corn, etc. something that doesn’t scorch easily, and with no taste – you may need up to a 3/4 of a quart)
  • honey (as desired – needs about a pint or so)


Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. (I use a mixer with a dough hook).

Add butter, mix. (prevents the warm butter from cooking the eggs).

Add remaining ingredients.

Add extra flour as needed to (you’ll be rolling it, so make it as make the dough manageable. soft as you can but not so soft that it sticks to everything. Add flour slowly – it takes time to absorb the liquid, and if you add too fast the dough will harden as you work it.)

Roll the dough into a stick (can be larger, if you want, or about 1/2″ in diameter, cut smaller, but make them all nearly the balls off 1/2″ around. same so they cook evenly).

Drop balls into oil on Don’t overcook. Balls should take a MEDIUM heat, cooking until minute or two to cook – if they cook LIGHT BROWN. faster, LOWER THE HEAT!!

Ladel balls out of oil as they (paper towels in a bowl work well) are finished – drain.

Before serving, cover with (can be stored with or without honey. honey. Without stays crunchier, which I like, but with absorbs more honey, which my father likes).

You can freeze these or store. If so, warm AND toast the outside until crispy before serving with the honey.