panzarotti di castagne

Photorecipe: Chocolate Chestnut Fritters (Panzarotti di Castagne)

This recipe is at the core of a family feud. I won’t lie, it wasn’t pretty. There was this lady who used to bring over Chocolate Chestnut Fritters for about 15 years to my house in Salerno and get a big plate of struffoli in return. She would swear that she made them with herown hands, but when asked for the recipe (which was pretty much every year) she would say “Oh you know… I just eyeball it”.


Now there is eyeballing like my mom and grandma, who pretty much would eye ball but in fact have pretty scientific measurements for everything… and eyeballing like simply lying about the recipe. This lady belonged to the latter type of eyeballing. I still remember, much to my dismay when we discovered that she would buy the chocolate chestnut fritters from a famous pastry store downtown Salerno and repackage them to make them look like they were home made. My mom and I were appalled. Why lying? Why giving us wrong ingredients just to make up for it? I understand that it might have been a family secret but usually even if 2 homecooks prepare the same recipe there always are differences. We later discovered that this lady wasn’t very nice after all… I guess we should have known better, but that is a story for another day.


Back to the recipe: we embarked in a quest to figure out ingredients and procedures. Of course all the people who provided the recipe had a different point of view, but we were ready for the challenge. Being the chocolate lover that I am, I decided to make these fritters in spite of the fact that I am the only one eating them. Kurt hates chocolate (not sure how that is possible since he had a slice of chocolate cake the size of my left buttock yesterday for breakfast and constantly asks for black forest cake), but hopefully I will be luckier with Baby Girl, next year. I can’t wait to expose her to all these recipes and traditions and to make even more with her!


For the Chestnut Stuffing

  • 10 oz. chestnut puree (I use La forestiere, which you can find at Whole Foods)
  • 4oz. dark chocolate (either chips or grated)
  • 4 oz. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp of dutched cocoa
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • zest of 2 tangerines
  • 1 tbsp of Strega Liqueur
  • 1 shot of espresso

For the Dough:

  • 16 oz AP Flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 oz vermouth or dry white wine
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • Canola Oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup of honey (optional)
  • sprinkles (Optional)


For the Chestnut Custard:

Place the chocolate, milk, espresso, sugar and cocoa powder in a pot over medium heat. Whisk from time to time until the chocolate is melted. Turn off the heat and add the chestnut puree, Strega liqueur and tangerine zest and stir completely to combine until you have a smooth texture. Let the chocolate chestnut custard cool off completely and solidify. Ideally you can make it up to 2 days in advance.

For the Dough:

You can skip this step altogether by using wanton wrappers, I have found that the fritters come out just as good and you’ll probably save a lot of time and effort. If you feel like sticking to tradition, place in the flour sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse to combine. Next add the butter and pulse until you obtain a texture similar to wet sand. Finally add the wine or vermouth and mix until the dough is combined. Let the dough sit for about half hour. When you are ready to assemble the fritters, divide the dough in 4 and start rolling the first piece on a lightly floured surface. You should try to roll the dough as thin as possible or even use a pasta maker, it necessary. Place tablespoons of chocolate custard on the dough and form the ravioli. If you notice that the dough is not sticky enough, brush it with water before closing the fritters, making sure that there is no air inside (or it WILL explode in the frying pan).

Fry the fritters in batches and place them to dry on paper towels. You can garnish the fritters with powdered sugar or, for the traditional Salerno style fare, brush them lightly with warm honey and sprinkle them with colored sugar sprinkles (the same I used for Struffoli).