Frappe or Cioffe are traditional Carnevale Italian bow tie cookies, for lack of a better name. The fried, slightly sweetened dough turns as light as angel wings, and tastes just as heavenly, especially with a dusting of powdered sugar!
Originally published March 13, 2013.
If you were to ask ten Italians what these lovely, crispy things are called, and I bet you will get close to 10 different responses.
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This causes a problem for those of us who know of these delicious deep fried Italian bow tie cookies, but either do not know what they are called or cannot remember their name. The list of searches which lead readers to this page includes things like Italian ribbon cookies, Italian fried cookies, Italian bow tie cookies, and angel wings recipe. They truly are not cookies, but pastries, however it’s what most people are using to refer to them.
My friend Cynthia from What a Girl Eats always makes a King Cake for Mardi Gras.
What are Italian Frappe or Cioffe or Italian Bow Tie Cookies?
Depending from where one’s Italian family originates, and what that family named them, they can be called: frappe, cioffe, cenci, chiacchiere, bugie, crostoli, galani and so many other names.
My immediate family calls them “cioff” (pronounced CHOFF) which means “bows” in the dialect we speak, but is just an abbreviated form of “cioffe”. They are usually made with some sort of liquor, like marsala or rum, but I’ve made them with good old Scotch whisky, so they’re like me: SCOTTISH-ITALIAN! đ
Speaking of Scotland, I also grew up eating Shrove Tuesday pancakes (the day before Ash Wednesday).
Frappe or cioffe are traditional Italian deep fried pastries which are usually made for Carnevale (just before lent), and at Christmas, but I grew up with my mother and aunts making them all year long. For example, they were always present at birthday celebrations.
Everyone who tastes these light and crispy bow tie cookies just can’t stop after eating only one! The dough is similar to pasta dough in texture, rolled thinly, cut, shaped and then fried. Afterwards, they are often dusted in powdered sugar or decorated with icing and sprinkles.
Italian Bow Tie Cookies Make a Lasting Impact!
A few weeks ago, I received a Facebook message from a Pauline living in Australia whose name I didn’t recognize (this may seem off-topic, but stay with me).
She asked if I was related to an old neighbor of hers from Scotland (my Aunt Virginia.) I wrote back and told her I was, and the next thing I knew, Pauline was describing how my aunt used to make these things called “choffs” which were little strips of sweetened dough, with the edges “pinked” and she’d dot them with colored icing. She was describing Italian bow tie cookies! She said that my aunt would give them to her and her mother, and they were such a treat! Who knew little fried pieces of dough could make such an impact?
Well, Pauline, here’s the recipe for frappe or cioffe, so now you can make them for your own family (and neighbors)! For those of you who are interested, the bone china cup and saucer is the Wedgwood, Cornucopia pattern.
How to Make Italian Bow Tie Cookies
(Frappe or Cioffe)
a family recipe handed down from my Nonna makes about 2 dozen
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
Using a mixer, place eggs, sugar, salt, and whisky in a large bowl and mix for two minutes or so (if making by hand, combine the ingredients, and stir well with a wooden spoon.)
Add one cup (in UK, just use a regular cup-no need to measure) of flour and mix well. Next, add the remaining flour and mix until a slightly sticky dough forms.
With hands, shape dough into a ball and refrigerate, covered, for about an hour.
Remove from fridge and cut dough in half and roll out one piece very thinly, on floured workspace.
Alternatively, if you have a pasta rolling machine, you can use it to make cioffe. I started on setting #1, and continued until I reached setting #4.
How to Shape Italian Bow Tie Cookies
Cut a strip: no size is right or wrong, but about 6 or 7 inches is a good size. Make a little cut towards one end.
Now place the opposite end through that slit, and pull through to make a ribbon shape. Don’t be afraid to pull and stretch as you want a thin result.
So it looks like these.
Another way to make cioffe is to make a slit in the middle of a shorter strip.Then take one end and pull it through the hole completely. Repeat, until all of dough is used. You’ve now shaped two different Italian bow tie cookies!
You can use an extra long strip of dough to start to tie a knot and make pretzel shape.
KEEP THE DOUGH COVERED IF YOU ARE NOT USING IT AS IT DRIES OUT QUICKLY. These are best made with a team of two people: one to cut and shape, and one to fry.
Meanwhile, heat some oil in a pot or deep fryer (I use a wok) until hot. Before dropping the pastry in the oil, pull and stretch each one, so that it is thinner (as they shrink after being shaped) then begin frying the pastries until puffed and light brown on each side.
Remove carefully with a strainer and place on a paper towel lined plate to cool.
When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Or decorate with a simple sugar icing (powdered sugar and water or milk) and sprinkles, or honey.
Speaking of honey, this same dough is used to make cicerchiata or struffoli at Christmastime.
Get Creative with Cioffe Dough
As I noted in a photo at the beginning. My mother got creative when I went to a food blogger meeting and made these incredibly beautiful pastries. She cut thin pieces of dough, braided them and fried them in the same manner as the larger ones. I love the super-light, crispy texture.
My cousin Gianfranco suggested cutting the dough with the spaghetti roller and deep frying the thin strips. Those turned out good, too! You can essentially make any sort of shape you like, just make sure that there’s space between the cut parts so that the oil can cook them evenly.
I truly hope you enjoyed my post about cioffe, and now you know the name for those Italian bow tie cookies!
Here’s another traditional Italian treat that’s great for holidays: pizzelle!
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup (2 oz) sugar
- 1/4 cup (2 oz) Scotch whisky (or any similar, clear liquor)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 3/4 cups (12 oz) flour
- oil, such as sunflower or grapeseed oil
- powdered (confectioner's) sugar for dusting
- Using a stand mixer, place eggs, sugar, salt, and whisky in a large bowl and mix for two minutes or so (if making by hand, combine the ingredients, and stir well with a wooden spoon.)
- Add one cup (in UK, just use a regular cup-no need to measure) of flour and mix well.
- Add the remaining flour and mix until a slightly sticky dough forms.
- With hands, shape dough into a ball and refrigerate, covered, for about an hour.
- Remove from fridge and cut dough in half and roll out one piece very thinly, on floured workspace.
- Dough will be elastic, but re-roll it if it gets too thick. Using a knife or cutter to cut into strips. Use a pasta rolling machine if you have one.
- Cut a strip: no size is right or wrong, but about 6 or 7 inches is a good size. Make a little cut towards one end. Now place the opposite end through that slit, and pull through to make a ribbon shape. Repeat, until all of dough is used.
- Meanwhile, heat some oil in a pot or deep fryer (I use a wok) until hot. Before dropping the pastry in the oil, pull and stretch each one, so that it is thinner (as they shrink after being shaped) then begin frying the pastries until puffed and light brown on each side.
- Remove with strainer and place on a paper towel lined plate to cool.
- When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar (or decorate with icing, or honey.)
It is really difficult to say how many this makes because it depends on what size and shape and thickness you make them.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 18 Serving Size: 2
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 104Total Fat: 1.5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g
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