Before I begin with the steps for making my Nonna’s Crostoli recipe, I should mention that she doesn’t measure ingredients or use any gadgets to cook. She bakes with her hands and from her heart. She doesn’t even touch a spoon! For your sake, I did measure the ingredients, but to stay true to my Nonna, my recipe follows her steps.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 and 1/2 cups sugar (divided)
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp vanilla
3 tbsp of orange juice
Zest from 1 lemon
Vegetable oil for frying (as needed)
- Dump flour onto a clean surface, such as a counter-top. Make into a mound. Then use your fist to create a hole in the centre.
- Pour the butter, sugar (1/2 cup), salt, milk, eggs, vanilla, orange juice and lemon zest into the centre of the flour mound and mix with your hand. (If you should have a good mixer or food processor, you can easily mix these ingredients first, and then add the flour)
- Knead the mixture into a dough until it resembles a soft, smooth ball. If it’s too sticky, add in more flour. If it’s dry and cracking, add more milk or orange juice.
- Separate into two balls and place them in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
- On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to flatten the chilled dough until it’s 1/4-inch thick, or to your liking. The flatter, the crispier, and the thicker, the softer and doughier.
- Cut the dough into long strips (approximately 1″ x 10″). Tie each strip into a loose knot.
- Heat a shallow pot filled with vegetable to approximately 350° F.
- Drop 8 to 12 cookies in at a time using tongs or a slotted spoon. Turn them after 1 to 2 minutes or until you can see them getting golden in colour.
- In the meantime, line a large bowl with paper towel and have your sugar prepared for dusting.
- After 3 to 5 minutes, the cookies should be done. Take them out with a slotted spoon and place them into the lined bowl. Immediately, sprinkle sugar on top while they’re piping hot.
- Repeat steps 8 to 10 until all the cookies are made. Serve and enjoy!