Requires: pasta machine (alternatively use rolling pin)
Place the flour and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub the butter into flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
Note: 00 is a powder-fine Italian type of flour. It is made from soft wheat varieties, and is frequently used in Italian desserts and pastas. 00 flour is available in most supermarkets, Italian food stores and gourmet delicatessens.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Place the eggs, grappa (or other liquor), vanillina (optional), and lemon zest into the well. Use a fork to lightly whisk the eggs with the other ingredients in the well. Use the fork to gradually blend a little of the flour into the egg mixture until a dough starts to form. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a few minutes until a smooth, soft dough forms. Place the Crostoli (Chiacchiere) dough into a bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside for minimum 30 minutes to rest at room temperature.
To achieve a consistent thickness, I recommend the use of a pasta machine to roll the Crostoli (Chiacchiere) dough – alternatively use a rolling pin. Attach the pasta machine to the side of a clean workbench.
Divide the Crostoli (Chiacchiere) dough into 3 portions. Remove 1 portion of the dough, then cover the remaining portions. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough into a rough rectangle shape and sprinkle over flour. Dust the rollers with flour. Feed the dough through the pasta machine rollers on the widest setting. Feed through the pasta machine several times, folding each time to laminate. Reduce the setting on the pasta machine by 1 and feed the dough through the pasta machine. Repeat, adjusting the setting on the pasta machine each time you feed the dough through the machine until it reaches the second thinnest setting. Lay out the sheet of Crostoli dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
To make the Crostoli (Chiacchiere) di Carnevale, use a ravioli cutter to cut the sheets of dough into 4cm wise strips. Use the ravioli cutter to cut a slit lengthways along the centre of each strip. Loop one end of the strip through the slit. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Heat the sunflower oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat to reach a temperature of 175°C (when the oil is ready, a pinch of breadcrumbs sizzle when dropped in the saucepan). Cook the Crostoli (Chiacchiere), in batches, turning occasionally for 1-2 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a baking tray lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Allow to cool completely. Add the finishing touch by lightly coating the Crostoli (Chiacchiere) di Carnevale in icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar) before serving with coffee – buon appetito