Angel wings on Christmas Eve
Cenci, also known as Chiacchiere, Frappe, Lattughe and Nastrini in Italian or Angel wings in English are delicious little ribbons of fried pastry, dusted with icing sugar and a popular festive treat during Carnevale (Italian Halloween) and other celebrations like Easter and Christmas.
When I’m in Australia in December, I always make this Christmas recipe in the weeks leading up to the big day because, along with biscotti, they make wonderful little hand-made gifts, are great to bring into the office for a sweet treat and perfect to fill a bowl with for parties and picnics. While you can make Cenci into straight forward little strips, the tradition of twisting the ends to create a bow tie or angel wing shape gives this Italian Christmas recipe a particularly festive look. I love to do this and create a hole in the end so I can hang them as edible Christmas tree decorations.
An Italian Christmas recipe you can tweak to suit your own tastes, Cenci can be made with or without citrus zest and using brandy or an anisette alcoholic base. If you’re making them for kids you could skip the booze altogether and put in a few drops of vanilla essence along with some orange zest instead.
Looking for more Italian recipes for Christmas? Check out my Chocolate Panforte recipe for a dark and sticky delight. Or if you want an ice cold tipple to ring in the New Year, make your own limoncello at home!
Italian Christmas Recipe: Cenci aka Chiacchiere
- 240g plain flour
- 20g unsalted butter
- 20g icing sugar
- 2 free range eggs
- 1 tablespoon brandy or grappa or anise flavoured liqueur
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- Zest of 1 orange or ½ lemon and ½ orange
- Plain sunflower oil for deep frying
- Caster sugar for dusting
- Cream the icing sugar and butter together using a hand beater or whisk. Add the alcohol and stir through.
- Combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Pour onto a clean surface and create a well in the centre.
- Into the well, pour the liquid ingredients and on top of this grate over the lemon zest.
- Bring the flour into the liquid slowly, bit by bit, to combine and make a soft dough similar to fresh pasta. Add more flour if it is too sticky, you do not want it to stick to the bench surface. Knead for 6-10 minutes.
- Wrap in cling film and rest for 30-60 minutes in the fridge.
- Remove from fridge and divide dough in two.
- Lightly flour a clean surface and rolling pin. Roll out the pastry to 2-3mm thickness. You can also do this using a pasta machine.
- Using serrated dough wheel cutter (or knife if you don’t have one), cut lengths around palm length long and two fingers’ wide.
- You can fry them just like this or cut a split down the centre (keeping the ends joined) and twist it to create a kind of bow tie shape.
- Fry in hot oil until golden – being careful not to over-cook them.
- Drain on a rack and once cooled, dust with icing sugar.