Carnevale! Carnevale! Ogni Scherzo Vale!

Finished CrostoliThis phrase is indicative of Carnivale – “Fat Tuesday, a day when every prank is allowed,” a final day of celebration before the start of the Lenten season. My family hails from a pastoral area of Friuli and Carnevale means something delicious in our home – Crostoli.

Friuli, a region of Northeastern Italy is famous for its wine, cheese, San Daniele prosciutto and a language that is unrecognizable as an iteration of Italian. Picture this: my summer vacations consisted of playing at our aunt’s house in the country, chasing the rabbits, collecting eggs from the chicken coop and helping to wash clothes in the stream in front of the house. In the middle of all this, my five foot tall mother wanders out into the fields wielding a scythe to expertly cut grass to feed the rabbits.

Crostoli is made from items found in most kitchens. They are easy and inexpensive to make, and result in a crisp and not overly sweet bite of heaven. They are, in fact, known in other parts of Italy as “Angel Wings.” It is a fun family project, as the dough is fragile and timing critical in the recipe.

Once you have made the dough and have the frying oil heated, you are ready to set up your assembly line. I always rolled the pasta and Elisa would catch the dough. Nonna cut and fried it, and Emily stood on a chair at the kitchen counter to immediately sprinkle sugar on the freshly fried crostoli. Chris and Sandro would take turns transferring the cooled ones to the serving dish. That was the best job – shockingly not all the crostoli survived the trip!

These crispy, sweet treats are delicious, and a great way to celebrate the last day of excess before Lent. Grab some friends and make some crostoli to enjoy!

Depending upon where you are from in Italy, you might call these cenci, chiacchere, gigi, bugie or many others.


Crostoli della Nonna

1/4 Cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinklingCrostoli Cooling
1 whole egg plus 3 egg yolks
1/4 Cup white wine
2 tbsp. white rum
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
pinch of salt
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
Oil for frying, we prefer canola oil

In a large mixing bowl, make a well with your flour. Add all the ingredients and blend with a fork, slowly incorporating the surrounding flour until the dough starts to come together. Knead until homogeneous. Knead well, but do not over work. It will be light, fluffy and stretchy. It will be a little sticky, similar to a biscuit or cut donut dough. Bring it together and then set it aside to roll.

Crostoli DoughDivide the dough into eight sections and work with one at a time. Flatten to a disk, flour both sides and roll though the thickest setting on your pasta machine (by far the easiest way to roll out the dough). Start at the widest setting, and one by one, work your way towards the setting you would use for fettuccine dusting with flour as necessary. Best results are personal preference, but on my machine, the setting I like is 3 (out of 7).

Cutting CrostoliThe easiest and prettiest way to cut the thinly rolled dough is to use a pastry cutter, and we prefer a fluted cutter for aesthetics. Cut the dough in half lengthwise, and then cut ribbons about 1″ wide. Nonna used to angle her cuts for the ribbons to create parallelograms. You can use a chef’s knife, but it will drag the dough and is a bit more cumbersome. With a knife, you will want to place two fingers lengthwise on either side of where you are cutting (not too close to the blade!) to gently hold the dough in place. You will need to gently pull the dough apart with your fingers after making the cuts thanks to its innately sticky texture.

Crostoli and Pastry Cutter

Nonna’s pastry cutter is more than 50 years old and still gets the job done.

Crostoli Cooking Comparison

Fry in oil at 350°F. Flip the crostoli as soon as they begin to show golden color on one side. The second side will fry quickly – remove as soon as golden. You can see on the photo to the right the difference between an under cooked, perfect and over cooked crostoli (from left to right). If you accidentally burn the crostoli they will take on a bitter flavor, so it is important to pay attention during this part of the process. Drain on paper towel and immediately sprinkle with granulated sugar. Repeat with each section of dough for a delectable Carnevale celebration!

Here are some more recipes for your enjoyment!

Cousin Vittorina’s Crostoli

2 eggs plus 5 yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbs Rum
7 tbs granulated sugar
1 cup white wine
3 tbs white vinegar
1 grated lemon rind
Pinch of salt
Enough flour to knead into a dough

Mix all ingredients, knead into a firm dough (like pasta), then roll it out thinly.
Cut 1” wide strips, then into 3” lengths to make rectangles.
Fry rectangles in oil until golden brown (the dough will bubble in spots).
Use tongs to remove them from the hot oil, and place them on towels to drain.
Sprinkle liberally with granulated sugar while they are hot.
Here are some more variation from mom’s handwritten recipe copybook:

Crostoli #2

3 cups flour
3 eggs
4 tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp vanilla extract

Knead into a tender, velvety texture, working it well and rolling it very fine.
Cut into strips with a dough cutter.
Fry them in canola oil, drain them well, then sprinkle with fine sugar.

Crostoli #3 – Crostui Furlans

3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
8 oz butter
1/2 cup Rum
3 tbs granulated sugar
2 tsp yeast
Pinch of salt
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Flour, as much as necessary

Crostoli #4 – Anna’s Cenci

3 eggs
8 oz butter
3 tbs granulated sugar
A bit of vanilla extract
1/2 tbs yeast
Grated rind of 1 lemon
3 cups flour

About Crostoli From Wikipedia

Italian cenci or chiacchiere are eaten at Carnival time. Their various regional names include:
frappe (a name shared with similar treats) in Rome;
sfrappole in Emilia Romagna;
bugie in Genoa; and
galani or crostoli in Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, especially in the Triestino capital, Trieste.

Many other regional names exist. Regional variations in the recipe include sprinkling with orange zest or using anisette wine as the alcoholic base.

In the various national cuisines, angel wings are referred to as:
Belarusian: хрушчы (chruščy) or фаворкі (favorki)
Croatian: krostole
Danish: Klejner
French: bugnes
German: Raderkuchen
Hungarian: csöröge
Italian: bugie, cenci, chiacchiere, crostoli, frappe, galani, sfrappole
Lithuanian: žagarėliai
Polish: chruścik, chruściki, chrust, chrusty, faworki
Romanian: minciunele, regionally: cirighele, scovergi
Russian: хворост (khvorost)
Slovak: fánka
Swedish: klenäter
Ukrainian: вергуни (verhuny)


Filed under Cookie, Holiday, Treat

3 responses to “Carnevale! Carnevale! Ogni Scherzo Vale!

  1. Fantastic site. A lot of helpful information here.
    I am sending it to a few pals ans additionally
    sharing in delicious.

  2. I think this is a great recpie for bible study, hors d’oeuvres for parties quick snack night for two. I would give it two thumbs up

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