Crostoli or Frappe du Carnaval

Crostoli dusted with icing sugar

04 Mar Crostoli or Frappe du Carnaval

Crostoli dusted with icing sugar by The Messy Baker

It’s Shrove Tuesday and everyone’s flipping pancakes and frying fritters. Me? I’m trying my hand at crostoli — a crispy, fried dough so light it’s almost like you’re not eating. Variations appear throughout Europe with different names and different shapes, but the distinctive blistered dough is unmistakable. And impossible to resist.

I always thought of this as a wedding treat since I first encountered it at my best friend’s bridal shower. No, no. It’s a Christmas goodie. Or so some tell me. And the Venetians? They gobble frappe du carnaval just before Lent.

The eater in me loves the crunch and shatter. The baker in me loves how these cookies embrace imperfection. Big, small, knotted, or flat, it just doesn’t matter. Besides, it knocks an item off my culinary bucket list and gives me an excuse to pull out my long-neglected pasta machine.

See… Nothing is perfect. The edges are all wibbly-wobbly.


I tried various traditional shapes — whole, single slit and double slit. The flat ones were easiest but the slit, which creates a single knot, was worth the 7-seconds of extra work. This shape allowed for more uniform crispiness. If I cut a piece of dough too big, the open centre still cooked evenly. The double-slit-and-knot was just too fussy. When you drop more than you complete, it’s a sign you’re getting too frou-frou for your own good.

Perfection matters little in the folding. When the crostoli hit the oil, they expand and dog-paddle about, threatening to untie themselves in the frenzy. As long as they puff up, blister and turn gold, you’re on the right track.

As an added bonus, you never know what form the knot will take while cooking. I spot a jellyfish and a ghost. What do you see?

Crostoli before icing sugar

Once drained and cooled, all they need is a dusting of icing sugar.


Dust them all at once, or as you serve them. It’s up to you.

Crostoli dusted with icing sugar

Stack and serve. And watch them vanish like a ghost, jet off like a jelly fish or exit in a suitable way for the shape you pull from the stack.

Sorry pancakes. Maybe next year.

A stack of crostoli by The Messy Baker.

Do you make a version of crostoli? What are your tricks?

Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: Makes about 8 dozen
Variations of crostoli can be found across Europe. You'll find this light, crispy dessert at Polish weddings, Venetian carnival, and Christmas tables across the continent. Whether it has a wavy edge, is tied in knots or just squares of dough, the dessert is always a crowd-pleaser.
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • ½ to 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons rum, orange liqueur, or grappa
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • oil for frying
  • icing sugar
  1. Mix the dough: In a large bowl mix the butter, yolks, sugar, and lemon zest until smooth. Mix in ½ cup milk and the rum. Blend in the flour and salt. Add more milk if needed. You want the consistency to be like firm pasta dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Cut into 8 portions. Cover in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Roll and shape: Set up your pasta machine. Put rollers to widest setting (7 on my machine). Working with one portion at a time, flatten the piece with your hands. Dust the pasta rollers with flour and run the dough through the widest setting. Continue rolling the pasta, reducing the setting each time by one notch, until you reach the finest setting. Before you run the dough through the second last setting, it will be getting a bit long to handle. Cut the dough ribbon in half crosswise and continue rolling half sheets until you get to the narrowest setting (1 on my machine). With a sharp knife or fluted pastry cutter, cut the dough into strips about 5 inches by 2 inches. Each half ribbon should produce 5 to 6 crostoli (or 10 to 12 per portion). Cut a slit down the centre of each pastry strip. Thread one short end through the slit to create a knot. Repeat with the remaining dough. (Note: The frying goes very quickly. If you are working alone, roll and cut all the dough before you begin frying, covering it with a dish towel so it won’t dry out. If you have a helper, one person should fry while the other person rolls and cuts.)
  3. Fry: Fill a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with 2 inches of cooking oil and heat over medium to 375°F or until a piece of dough dropped in sizzles and browns in 15 seconds. Because the crostoli cook so quickly and expand in the oil, it’s best to cook one at a time. Gently, place a strip in the hot oil and fry until golden (this took only 15 to 20 seconds). Flip and cook the other side (about 15 more seconds). Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. Repeat with remaining strips. If space is an issue, stack the crostoli / paper towel layers on top of each other. The cookies are very light and won’t crush each other.
  4. Dust with sugar: When they have cooled or just before eating them, dust with icing sugar. Don’t dust them when they are warm or the icing sugar will melt and make a sticky mess.
  5. Store in an airtight container. They will keep for a few days.
While you can roll the dough by hand, the thinner the crostoli, the better. You’ll get the most consistent results with a pasta machine. If rolling by hand, you want the dough so thin you can't accurately measure it. It should be thin enough to see through but not tear when you fold it.

Adapted using Canadian ingredients from a recipe given to me by an Italian friend.


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  • Robin
    Posted at 10:30h, 04 March Reply

    Loved the photo’s. They were extra brilliant. Would love the left overs – oh wait – what made me think there would be any left????
    Stay warm.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:37h, 04 March Reply

      Thanks. I can’t trust myself around them, so I gave them to the neighbours. Swing by and grab some. I’m sure they’ll share if you ask nicely. Then again, do you want to venture out in this? I don’t!

  • Jolene
    Posted at 14:24h, 04 March Reply

    Like chrusciki (angel wings), though my Polish friends make them at Christmas time rather than Shrove Tuesday. Tasty any time of the year! :)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:52h, 04 March Reply

      Thanks for providing the Polish name. My Polish friends make them at Christmas, too. And for very special occasions like weddings and milestone anniversaries. I was told they were a labour of love and was afraid to make them for years. Turns out it’s not that bad as long as you don’t try to multitask.

      I agree, they are tasty any time of year.

  • A_Boleyn
    Posted at 00:13h, 05 March Reply

    My Romanian mother used to make these. They’re called ‘minciunele’ in Romanian which means “little lies” cause that’s what you tell yourself … little lies that you’re only going to have one or two and then you end up eating five or six. They’re best freshly fried, of course.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:23h, 05 March Reply

      Little lies? That’s the perfect name! I love it.

      I knew Italy, Poland and The Ukraine had variations of this treat. I had no idea there was also a Romanian version. Thanks so much for sharing the location and the wonderful name. I think Little Lies is my favourite of them all.

      • A_Boleyn
        Posted at 15:32h, 08 March Reply

        I’m not a big fan of deep frying (I have ‘issues’) but I’ve been wanting to make these one of these days, especially when I get nostalgic about the ones my mom used to make. My last big frying project was cannoli shells after clearing out my parents’ cottage and bringing home her pasta maker and cannoli forms.

        The bubbles in the dough reminded me of those in the cannoli shells. In fact, I think the recipes for the crostoli and cannoli shells are similar.

        • Charmian Christie
          Posted at 13:57h, 09 March Reply

          I rarely deepfry, too. I was surprised how little oil these absorbed. One of the tricks is keeping the oil hot enough. If the heat’s too low the crostoli becomes laden with oil and soggy. Ick.

          Interesting you noted the similarities between crostoli and cannoli. I thought the same thing briefly but was so caught up in the twisting of the dough I never pursued the idea. Good catch!

  • annie @ chase that i love
    Posted at 15:14h, 05 March Reply

    woah! They remind me of mexican bunelos. These look so delish and airy. I can see crumbling up leftovers in a bowl of milk.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 19:46h, 05 March Reply

      Ooooh, a Mexican variation. This is more global then I realized. Like your thrifty was with the leftovers. My only question is — are there ever any?

      Thanks for sharing this info!

  • A Canadian Foodie
    Posted at 14:50h, 08 March Reply

    Love the imaginative writing…. and the photos. And the recipe.
    YUM! I have a Venetian friend who has been promising to have me over to make these for 5 years now. Maybe this is the year. I hope.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:54h, 09 March Reply

      Thanks for the kind words, Val. I hope you and your friend get together and make a great big batch. It’s more fun with a friend!

  • Josie
    Posted at 22:49h, 03 August Reply

    I have tried to make them and they come out a lovely colour and bubbly, but not crisp – what am I doing wrong?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:03h, 04 August Reply

      I’m not sure why they’re not crisp. If you didn’t substitute any ingredients, there are a couple of possible issues. First, the oil wasn’t hot enough. If it wasn’t up to heat, the crostoli would cook, but absorb too much oil during the process and become soggy. Another possibility is the dough was too thick. It must be rolled quite thinly to work. If you have a pasta maker, this makes the job much easier.

      I hope this helps and that your next batch is light and crispy!

  • Robert
    Posted at 13:34h, 17 December Reply

    Tried to make these but they didn’t come out crispy. What did I do wrong?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:11h, 19 December Reply

      Based on issues I’ve seen with students making these, the recipe has a couple of critical points where things can go wrong.

      1.) The dough needs to be rolled really thin. Roll through to the thinnest setting. I reread the instructions and that might not be clear. I’ll reword.
      2.) The oil has to be hot. If it’s not hot enough the dough will just absorb the oil and get soggy. The temperature of the oil might drop, so make sure it comes up to heat between batches.

      I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.

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