Carnival (or in Spanish, Carnaval) is the celebration most Americans call Mardi Gras. It is a celebration the week before Lent starts, and it ends on on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Carnival in Spain is celebrated in different ways in the various regions of Spain. The glitziest celebration, similar to Carnival in Brazil, is in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, which are off the west coast of Africa. Another Spanish city famous for its carnival celebration is Cadiz, in the south of Spain.
Every celebration includes some typical dishes, including carnival. In the Canary Islands, they prepare small, round sweets drizzled with honey. They look like fluffy, deep-fried pancakes and are called tortillas de Carnaval. They are simple to make, and are delicious served warm and drizzled with honey. Enjoy as a dessert or an afternoon snack.
Note: Anise liqueur is available at most liquor stores and some gourmet supermarkets. If you can't find it in your local stores, substitute vodka and 2 teaspoons of anise extract.
More Spanish Desserts for Carnival
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 1/2 peel lemon
- 8 ounces milk
- 1 3/4 ounces anise liqueur
- Olive oil (for frying)
- 1 stick cinnamon or ground cinnamon
- 4 to 6 ounces wildflower honey
Separate the egg whites from the yolks, placing the whites in a large mixing bowl.
Prepare the batter. For best results, eggs should be at room temperature, as the whites will beat up faster and fuller. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks with an electric hand mixer.
As the whites begin to stiffen up, begin adding the ingredients one by one, as you are beating. Begin by adding the sugar, yolks and then the flour and anise liqueur. Slowly pour in the milk and last the lemon peel. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Fry the tortillas. Pour olive oil into a medium frying pan to a depth of at least a 1/2 inch. (Due to the strong flavor of olive oil, some cooks prefer to fry desserts like this in vegetable oil, such as corn or canola oil.) Heat on medium to medium-high, careful not to burn the oil. Once the oil is hot enough, use a ladle to pour a small amount of batter into the oil. When the tortillas are golden on one side, carefully turn them over and cook on the other. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. Serve immediately.
Choose to flavor the tortillas with cinnamon one of two ways:
Cinnamon Stick: Pour honey into a small pan or bowl, with the cinnamon stick in it. Heat on stove or in the microwave. Drizzle warm honey over the tortillas when serving.
Ground Cinnamon: Heat honey and drizzle over tortillas. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top.