Yes, the holidays are over and for many of us January is the month of diets and resolutions, but in Italy it is also a period in which fried treats are enjoyed guilt-free, as Carnevale draws near.

1 cup (130 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine – 1/4 cup sparkling water
1 egg, separated – 2 pinches of fine salt
4 to 5 firm, tart apples such as Gold Rush or Granny Smith
Granulated sugar – 2 tablespoons apple brandy or Cognac – Sunflower oil for frying
Confectioners’ sugar or granulated sugar for finishing
Measure the flour into a bowl. Whisk in the wine, water, and egg yolk (reserve the white). Whisk in a pinch of salt. Cover and let rest about 1 hour.

In the mean time, peel and core the apples; cut them into 3/8-inch-thick rings.
You should get about 5 rings per apple. Spread the apples out on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle them lightly with granulates sugar and then brandy. Let them macerate for 1 hour. Heat the oven to 300° F.
When the batter is ready, whip the egg white: place it in a stainless steel bowl and add a salt. Whip until it holds stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg white into the batter.

Pour 2 inches worth of oil into a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan large enough to hold 2 or 3 apple rings. Heat on medium-high to 375° F or until a drop of batter sizzles and puffs up upon contact with the oil.

Pat the apple slices dry. Dip a slice into the batter and coat it well. Use a wooden chopstick or skewer to lift it through the core hole and transfer it to the hot oil, allowing some of the batter to drop off before carefully lowering it into the oil.
Fry the apple slices two or three at a time, turning them once or twice, until golden on both sides. With a slotted spoon, transfer the slices to a paper towel-lined platter or tray. Place the tray in the preheated oven and continue to fry the apple slices.

At serving time, shower the fried apples with confectioners’ sugar. Or, pour about a cup of granulated sugar into a shallow bowl. Gently dip the apple slices in the sugar, coating them thoroughly. Serve the apple slices hot, warm, or at room temperature.