Feb 1, 2011

Frappe recipe

A carnevale ogni scherzo vale! This sentence translates to, "During carnival season, all pranks and practical jokes are allowed."
And so is eating fried pastries, dressing up in colorful costume, throwing confetti and being silly at any age. This year, carnevale has been pushed forward, because of the late Easter. But my annual revelry has already begun.

Image © mammafelice.it

Carnevale is a traditional Christian holiday celebrated in the two-week period that precedes Lent. Traditionally festivities are most lively between Maundy Thursday (giovedì grasso) and Shrove Tuesday, known here as fat Tuesday, martedì grasso, in French, mardi gras. That’s when the streets become dangerous. Especially around lunchtime, when school is out, and kids are armed and dangerous. Strolling down the street you can find yourself caught in the cross fire of projectile warfare. However this only constitutes a serious hazard to clothes and hairdos, since the designated ammo is usually only eggs, shaving cream, water balloons or stink bombs.

As a child back then and equally as a mother now, I look forward to the advent of carnevale not only because dressing up in costumes and make-up is fun, but also because at this time of year we are blessed with the traditional pastries called frappe.

What I grew up calling frappe go by an absurd variety of other regional names. Frappe means 'tassels,' but in Toscana they are called cenci, 'rags.' Southern chiacchiere means 'gossip,' nastri are 'ribbons,' bugie are 'lies,' lattughe means 'lettuce leaves.' Other local names include cròstoli (in Ferrara, Veneto, Trentino, Friuli), gale or galàni (in Venezia and Padova), intrigoni, lasagne, pampuglie, rosoni or sfrappole (in Emilia Romagna), cioffe (in Sulmona and central Abruzzo), and sfrappe in the Marche region. In the English speaking world I've heard them called lovers' knots.

These particular holiday fritters are crisp ribbons of rolled dough, dusted with powdered sugar. And just like their multiple names, the different incarnations are cut and shaped differently before being fried. Some are squared, diamond or irregular-shaped, some are tied into a loose knot. Some are light as a feather, others chewy and baked rather than deep-fried.

I'm warning you though–whatever their name, size or shape–frappe induce chain eating.

300 g (2 1/2 cups) flour, possibly "00" + more for dusting
100 g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
2 eggs
Pinch of salt (if you're using unsalted butter)
1 packet of vanilla extract
Oil for frying
Confectioner's sugar

Mix the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt and shape into a volcano mound. Drop the eggs, butter and the vanilla extract in the crater and begin working the ingredients with your fingers to obtain a soft, supple dough.

Roll out the dough on a wooden work surface dusted with flour and a rolling pin, flattening it out to 1/8-inch in thickness. Cut flattened dough into strips using a sharp paring knife, or a pastry cutter, and deep fry small batches in plenty vegetable oil.

Remove from the frying oil with a slotted spoon and rest them on paper towels to absorb excess grease. When completely cool, dust them with confectioners' sugar, and serve wearing a domino mask.


  1. I've tried to make frappe (they are called both frappe and chiacchiere in Umbria) a couple of times, and they've been a dire disappointment. I am going to have another go with your recipe. Wish me luck.

  2. Yes! Yummy! I am definitely going to try this. :)

    So, isn't the old traditional way of doing things great? Eat right and be polite for most of the year, then here comes carnivale and you eat junky yummy food and act mischeviously. Carpe Diem!

  3. my grandma always made these and you're right they are very addicting.

  4. Great! Now, show us the revelries, the costumes, the balls... so when we make the sweet nastri we can pretend and enjoy Carnevale vicariously.

  5. I'm pretty sure my mom makes a Lithuanian version of these called ausaki.

  6. very interesting! i'd love a taste of these. just looking at them, i want more, already. ;-)


  7. We called them o'wand....which Dad said translates to 'hand' -Can you find the neopolitian in that one?

  8. My dad's family was from Orciano di Pesaro in Le Marche and this was his favorite cookie. He called them "crullers" which was probably more English than Italian.

  9. Hi Eleonora, I teach Italian in NYC elementary school. We celebrated carnevale this year by changing the phrase "A carnevale ogni scherzo vale" to A Carnevale ogni ricetta vale!" :D We spoke about the deserts eaten at Carnevale! So cool to see a post on your wonderful blog! I will definitively share it with my classes! Maria

  10. We called them cenci, now we call them frappe and they are delicious in any region or country. I love your enthusiasm for the celebrations! I am glad Easter is late though - less chance of there being snow on the ground come Easter. But with this winter, who knows?

  11. nice...happy carnevale...at ours its funnel cake...why is ti yours seems more elegant...

  12. oh be still my heart!

    i cannot look at these until i lose another 20 pounds. but i can taste them and smell them perfectly in my mind right this minute.

    have i told you that i love your blog? :)


  13. sounds alot like Halloween. Would love a batch of those tasseled, ribboned, lying rags!

  14. I am all for anything that lets me dress up in a costume and eat fried foods! :-)

  15. Yum! Do you think I could make them with gluten-free flour? I will have to try!

  16. really interesting article :-)))procti

  17. Rebecca-
    please report back when you do!!

    I fully embrace that philosophy!

    they're magic, the minute they arrive on the table... they disappear!

    I'm thinking either Czarine Catherine and Rasputin (for Mr E) or something Star Trek-themed... suggestions are welcome.

    I love that tradition and food have no geographical borders!

    They are indeed delicious!

    The only thing that this associates to is "guanti," Italian for 'gloves' ...another name for frappe!

    I'm so happy my posts stimulate family memories!

    Italian in elementary school! How wonderful!!! I hope your class enjoys reading the post, but you should make some frappe to eat too!

    The travel industry is hoping the late Easter vacation will be warm and sunny here, even though Easter Sunday is ALWAYS rainy!

    What is funnel cake? Sounds interesting...

    Dieting... I'm trying to stop. Are you familiar with the expression "semel in anno..." and what's a little artery-clogging fried pastry once in a while? ;)

    Carnevale is the playful, ghost-free version of Halloween!

    I agree, there's very little else that tops that. Besides cheese, maybe.

    I'm sure you can. They may actually even turn out lighter and crisper... Let me know, OK?

    Thank you!

  18. Good morning Eleonora, from snowy and icy New Jersey! Loved this post - those little delicacies are addictive indeed! FHFB and I will be in Rome in late April and hope to find one of the late night bakeries that make the cornets (sp?)
    Ciao, bella! :)

    A carnival village will be set up in Rome's Piazza del Popolo, complete with parades, street performers, allegorical floats, musicians, Lazio historical flag-throwers and dance groups, and ctors in traditional masks & costume. According to my sources, this year's Carnevale celebrations begin February 26, and continue through March 6.


  20. And my Calabrian grandmother called them 'nacatole'... E quanti ne ho mangiato da bambina!!! But all year round :)

  21. FHFG-
    Maybe we can go cornetto-hunting together, stealing away in the night! Give me a buzz, I'd love to hook up when you're here.

    Oh, wow thanks for adding one more moniker to my frappe list! Eating nacatole all year round? You were one very lucky little girl...

  22. that looks so so superior to any funnel cake i could eat at a carnival...

    freely admitting my chain eating instincts for this!

  23. I live in Canada (8 years) but originally I'm from Argentina. I cannot believe Italy has "carnaval" (spanish version) too!! Exactly the same traditions, this deserves Frappe for desert. Thanks Eleonora (I'm new to your Blog.. I love it and love the way you do it) All the best, Auguri!!

  24. Bellissimo blog, ti ho trovato per caso ed eccomi qui ti seguo! BACIONE!

  25. Amanda-
    Welcome to my world!! Love

    Gracias!! Mi ex-novio era Cordobes, y Argentina me encanta!!! I'm happy you enjoy the blog, come back soon!

    Grazie, mi fa piacere che ti piace il blog, perché ci metto molto cuore. A presto, allora!

  26. We called them grustoli (maybe spelled incorrectly) and my Nonna put whiskey in them. As kids we thought we were so grown up because we got to eat food with booze in it.

  27. Mmmmmmmmm. Crisp, yet light, fried dough, with powdered sugar, is a treat any time. Crunchy, sweet, delightful to many senses!

  28. Pat~
    How wonderful to see you back here! I think that's just another way of calling cròstoli, one more name for these lovely treats.

    How can something so tasty and rewarding on many sensorial levels be eaten only once a year?!

  29. Buonissimi, i cenci della Nonna.

    And at the Tulsa state fair, something like that is called funnel cake, served on Texas-sized plates.

  30. Eleonora, instead of frappe, we made no bake cookies, covered with multicolored sprinkles! (can't really fry in school) :-)

  31. Mi miace tanto, e difficile fermarmi a mangiarli :)))

  32. Andrea~
    I've heard about funnel cake, I must find out more... Thanks for your comment!


    In my roving existence I managed to fry virtually everywhere, including on a fishing boat (with no electric power) and on an empty beach at night, but I guess for safety reasons it's best not to in a class full of kids!


    Si, è vero le frappe creano dipendenza!

  33. Mi hai fatto venire la voglia di farle...volevo desistere ma non ce la faccio^_^

  34. Tilli~
    Guai a desistere, o resistere le tentazioni: fa malissimo!!!
    Buona frittura, cara.

  35. Festivities sound right up my street LOL. So does your appetising mouth watering food. I think you might be impressed with my musical kitchen LOL. Hugs ~ Eddie

    Clouds and Silvery Linings
    and Platos’s Procrastinations

  36. I think our Italian teacher gave us some of these at school a few years ago, or something very similar. Anyway they were delicious. You asked about my collage of photos, I use Picasa.

  37. Eddie-
    Musical kitchen? i'll be right over, with the wine.

    Thanks, I figured out a way with Photoshop. Did you see my latest Nutella post? ;)

  38. I am totally addicted to these, no matter what you call them.

  39. I've never understood the reason because in Italy in almost each Region they are called with different names. Anyway in your granny hometown = Piedmont, they are: Bugie :-)

  40. CCLinda~
    Tell me about it...


    A Nonna Titta non facevano impazzire i dolci, anche se ne faceva alcuni spaziali, tipo il Crèm Caramel (ricetta segreta che non siamo mai riusciti a riprodurre), quindi non ricordo d'averle sentite chiamare BUGIE. Devo chiedere a mamma.

    Un abbraccio

  41. Serene~
    Indeed! Yesterday I saw so many people and kids in costume in the streets. Carnevale is in full swing now.

  42. I spent several months in Genova recently and loved the bugie. At one pasticeria, they had something similar in taste, but it was filled with nutella or marmalata. I don't know what it was called and wonder if you might have some ideas. This pastry looked more like a ravioli and was puffed up quite uniformly. It was fried and I am pretty sure it was filled AFTER frying. Any thoughts?!