Lidia Bastianich Crostoli (Fried Ribbon Cookies)
- 6 tablespoons very soft unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Finely grated zest of a lemon, about 2 teaspoons
- Finely grated zest of an orange, about 2 tablespoons
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
- 6 to 8 cups vegetable oil for frying, or as needed
- 1/4 cup cup confectioners’ sugar, or as needed
1. Blend butter, sugar and salt in the food processor. Add milk, egg and yolk, citrus juices and citrus zests and process everything together until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, dump in all of the flour, and process in pulses until the dough comes together. Clean the bowl again and pulse a few more times to mix thoroughly.
2. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly into a soft smooth ball. If it is sticky, knead in more flour in a small amounts. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (You can keep it refrigerated up to 1 day but let it return to room temperature before rolling.)
3. Cut the chilled dough in half and work with one piece at a time. Flatten the dough on lightly floured work surface and roll it out to a rough square shape, approximately 16 inches on a side. Trim the edges of the square and with a fluted cutter, divide it into 10 strips, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Cut across all the strips in the middle to form 20 ribbons, each about 7 inches long (though they shrink after you cut them). One at a time, the each ribbon into a simple overhand knot. (When tying the crostoli, leave the knot very loose so there will be a gap for tying a ribbon for hanging once fried.) If necessary, stretch the ends gently so they’re long enough to knot. Place the knotted crostoli on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper, leaving room between them so they don’t stick to each other. Roll out the second piece of dough; cut and tie the same way.
4. Meanwhile, pour vegetable oil in the pan to a depth of 2 in. Set over medium heat to gradually reach frying temperature. When you’re ready to start frying, raise the heat and test the oil by dropping in a scrap piece of dough: the fat should bubble actively around the dough, but it shouldn’t get dark quickly. (If you have a frying thermometer, heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Be cautious when deep frying.)
Using long-handled tongs, quickly drop the first batch of crostoli in the fryer —raise the heat to return the oil to the frying temperature. Don’t crowd the cookies — fry only 10 or 12 at a time in a 10-inch diameter pan. The cookies will first drop to the bottom but will soon float to the surface. Turn them frequently with tongs and a slotted spoon, to cook evenly.
Fry the crostoli for about 4 min, as they color gradually to dark gold, Adjust the heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature and prevent rapid browning. When crisp and golden all over, lift them from the oil with a spoon, drain off the oil, then lay them on layers of paper towels to cool. Fry the remaining crostoli in batches the same way. Store in a sealed cookie tin or plastic container and keep dry. To serve, pile the crostoli on a serving plate in a heaping mound. Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small mesh sieve and dust generously over the cookies.