Crackers are out and Italian donzelle are in



In my “5 Party Foods from Around the World” series, I cooked and learned about a greatly comforting Italian party dish called donzelle. Made from pizza pastry fried in oil, stracchino cheese, and prosciutto crudo, this prime example proves that meat, cheese, and bread is the perfect combination in any dish. It was simply delightful, and I can imagine some wonderful conversations taking place over a large, warm plate of donzelle!

This recipe comes from Lucrezia, who is from Florence, Italy. Although the recipe for donzelle changes slightly throughout the region, the basis is the same, therefore people from all over enjoy heaps of donzelle at parties and other functions. When served as smaller pieces, guests at any get-together can pick a few, cover them with cheese, and be on their merry way. Lucrezia’s aunt would make them for every special occasion, so many wonderful memories are linked to this dish for her. 

When making donzelle, I found the dough easy to work with. You roll it quite thinly before cutting it into rhomboidal shapes and frying these pieces. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have enough time to make dough from scratch, you could purchase pizza dough from the store and let it rise a bit before frying and get a similar result! Either way, you’ll produce a crunchy fried pastry best served hot. Accompanied by the stracchino cheese (or any other soft, spreadable cheese available to you) and prosciutto crudo, this salty, fluffy treat was mouthwatering. The fried bread puffs are even good on their own!

You’ll find me making this party food for movie nights or parties with friends and neighbors. It was absolutely delicious, and the salty prosciutto was the perfect addition. It was a privilege to discover this incredible take on meat, cheese, and bread, and I must thank Lucrezia profusely!

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  • 500 g 00 flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 25 g fresh yeast
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 300 ml water
  • neutral oil for frying
  • fleur de sel for finishing


  • Place the flour into the bowl of a food mixer. Add the salt and sugar on one side of the bowl and crumble the yeast on the other side.
  • Add the olive oil and mix on a low setting using a dough hook. Slowly add the water until the mixture comes together. Continue to mix for a further 5 minutes.
  • Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, bring together with your hands and knead for about 10 minutes
  • Shape the dough into a ball (you may need to grease your hands with olive oil as it will be quite sticky) and grease a large bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave to rise until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  • When the dough has risen, knock the air out of it then form it into a ball. Sprinkle some flour over the top, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise again for about 30 minutes.
  • Place the dough on a floured board and roll out until about ½cm thick. Using a pastry wheel, cut into rectangles about 5cm by 2½ cm.
  • Preheat the oil in a large saucepan or deep fryer to 180°C
  • Carefully drop the donzelle into the fryer and cook for about 5 minutes, or until puffed and lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with a little fleur de sel.
  • Serve warm with Italian cheese and salami, and perhaps a nice glass of Chianti or other Tuscan wine.


Recipe inspired by Great Italian Chefs
Course: Snack
Keyword: Party Food


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