Rome loves a party. And this year, Carnevale in Rome — though not approaching the decadence, debauchery, and downright tomfoolery that took place during the pagan forerunners of this Christianized celebration — has been pumped up with various forms of street revelry, most notably a parade of costumed Romans on horses and chariots beginning at Piazza del Popolo and following the ancient route down Via del Corso.
So what will everyone be munching on during these festivities? Not popcorn, not soft salted pretzels, not Buffalo wings, or corn dogs on a stick. The traditional “you can’t eat just one” Carnevale treats in Rome are frappe, fried ribbons of dough copiously dusted with powdered sugar, temptingly displayed in every pastry shop window – and, oh, so easy to love.
My dear friend Daniela Del Balzo, owner of Daniela’s Cooking School in Rome, just sent out her recipe for these pre-Lenten treats along with her words about these delectable delights:
“In Italy the best-known Carnival pastries are Cenci (rags), or Frappe – Chiacchere (gossips), and Nastrini (ribbons), or with more poetic words “Lover’s Knots”.
Each regions has its own version and different names according to the place they come from.
If you try one you won’t be able to stop eating them!
Be careful they are quite addictive!
One tip…is to melt dark bitter chocolate and dip the Frappe inside!!!!!!!”
500 gr plain flour
50gr softened butter
eggs (2 yolks and 1 full egg)
1 tbsp sugar
50 gr brandy liqueur (Rum or Grappa)
100 gr approx. white wine, as required
pinch of salt
peanut oil for frying
icing sugar for dusting
On a board, make a well in the flour and pour the eggs into it. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the wine) and mix together, adding the wine gradually. Stop adding the wine when the dough is firm but elastic, and doesn’t stick to the surface. Knead for about 15-20 minutes.
Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
Flour the surface and roll out the dough to a very thin sheet, flouring the surface if required. It is important that the sheet is very, very thin.
Using a pastry wheel cut the dough into strips as long as your palm and two fingers wide. Make a cut down the middle of each “cencio” (so as to obtain two strips joined at the ends), twist the side strips without breaking them.
To make “frappe” shape: cut the dough into strips (approx. 5×10 cm) and then make three vertical incisions on each strip.
Heat the frying oil in a deep pan. When hot (but not too much) fry the dough until lightly golden. It is important that you do not fry them for too long. As soon as you see the colour turning light golden, scoop them out and drain off the oil on kitchen paper. Sprinkle generously with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold.