A Carnevale Dessert –
Growing up Italian taught me many things – but none so true as that things can have many different names and still be the same. Italian dolci tend to fall into this area where the same sweet can be called by any number of names. I have had many conversations with Italian friends where it took 20 minutes to figure out that we were all talking about basically the same thing – but each of us gave it a different name.
GUANTI are such an example. My mother, Loretta, called these little knotted cookies WANDI. The “GU” wants to be pronounced as a “W”. I have even heard them called “E Wands” . They are also referred to as “Chiacchiere” – which means chatter. My friend, Peggy, remembers them as “Noccatelle”. They are knotted strips of dough – cut with a pastry cutter making a jagged edge – then lightly fried, and sugared.
GUANTI, Chiacchiere, Noccatelle – are usually made at special times – like Christmas but most often at Carnevale – the joy filled weeks prior to Ash Wednesday when Italians celebrate with parades in costume, joyous festivals, and, of course, special foods. It is the time of Mardi Gras in some places around the world – but in Italy, Carnevale is a few weeks of joyous masked merriment and special rich foods, enjoyed in preparation for the Lenten period of abstinence.
GUANTI is one of those sweet treats that you may remember your Nonna making. When my mother made them, the aroma of the fried dough filled our little house, and I knew something wonderful was in store. I waited for the platter of little knots to appear. She sprinkled hers with powdered sugar, although many families may remember them with honey and nuts – like struffoli. They are best eaten warm, right out of the oil, and freshly made. When you have these, it is not an event you will likely soon forget.
GUANTI, AN ITALIAN SWEET
Makes: dozens depending on size
Prep: 15 mintues
Cook: 30 minutes
3 C. Sifted Flour
Dash of Salt
1 C. Sugar
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/3 C. Dry White Wine
Vegetable Oil – enough to make about 1 1/2 inches deep in your pot.
Plenty of Powdered Sugar
Place dry ingredients in the food processor or mixer & mix. ( OR place on a board and make a well in the center as in the old days!)
Add eggs and vanilla – then process until the dough begins to come together.
Add the wine and mix until the dough becomes soft. ( You may need a few drops more wine– depending on the dryness.)
Turn the dough out on a board or slab to knead. Knead a few minutes until your dough is smooth.
Cut strips about 5/8” wide and about 8 inches long with your dough cutter – or you can also use pinking shears to achieve the jagged edge.
Take each strip and make a knot looping one end of strip over, under and through – like the beginning of a square knot – only you will only loop it through once.
Drop the knots into hot oil in a pan or pot heated to about 375 degrees – a few at a time. Turn them gently and quickly in the oil .
Remove them as they turn golden and let drain on paper towels.
Quickly sift powdered sugar (or granulated sugar) over them on all sides. You may want to sugar them a couple more times.
(Some like to drizzle them with honey and sprinkle them with nuts – like struffoli.)
The GUANTI are delicious dipped in hot chocolate, tea, coffee or enjoyed with espresso!
PARLA COME MANGI!
Comments are welcome in the “Speak Your Mind Area” beneath this post online.
Food Photos By Tommy Hanks