Cookie contest: the envelope, please


Adri Barr Crocetti’s grandmother’s cookies won AFR’s contest. / Photo by Adri Barr Crocetti.


Our thanks to all of you who took the time to write and submit your cookies with a story. Your stories tugged at our heartstrings and made us smile. Your recipes made us drool.

In the end, it was Adri Barr Crocetti’s vivid recollection of her Nonna Angela Barra Crocetti and Nonna’s fried crostoli that stole our hearts. Since Nonna Angela never wrote down her recipe, it was up to her granddaughter to recreate these sweet fried knots of dough.

Below is Adri Barr Crocetti’s story and recipe. But we also want to give a shout-out to six more entries that we loved, so we are sharing those recipes as well. Here are the links, in alphabetical order:

Posey Boicourt’s Bourbon Balls

Janet Crocetti’s Best Baklava

Stephanie Deutsch’s Gingerbread Cookies

Michelle Maynard’s Biscotti di Greve

Linda Prospero’s Cartellate

Elizabeth Ann Quirino’s Pan de San Nicolas


Makes 3 1/2 dozen


I love fried dough. I am my father’s daughter, and he was his mother’s son. My paternal grandmother, Angela Barra Crocetti, was not your prototypical nonna. She drove a white Cadillac and she wore Spring-o-lator shoes. But at the stove she rocked, just like a nonna should. Clack, clack, clack went those high-heeled shoes as she walked up the drive carrying a long flat box from Saks Fifth Avenue. Inside were those wonderful knots of dough, deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar. She made them for her two sons as they grew up in their home in Steubenville, Ohio, and I can tell you with certainty that as much as I loved those cookies, my dad loved them even more. I can still see the smile on his face and the powdered sugar on his chest as we dipped into that box.

My cookie story is a cautionary tale. I remember that my grandmother used flour, sugar, eggs and milk. There was solid Crisco to fry and brown paper grocery bags to drain. But that is where her recipe ends and my story begins. She died without writing the recipe down. A few years ago I went about recreating her recipe, researching and working until I was satisfied.

To everyone out there - learn how the older ones make their food, their specialties. These recipes are part of who you are. Don’t let them fade from memory.
--Adri Barr Crocetti


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon grappa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

  • Peanut oil for frying
  • Confectioner’s sugar


In a mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt. With mixer running add egg, butter, grappa and vanilla. Gradually add milk to form a soft malleable dough. Remove dough from bowl, pat into a disk and wrap in plastic. Set aside to rest for 1 hour.

Line a sheet pan with a tea towel and lightly dust with flour. Divide dough in 2 pieces, keeping the one you are not using wrapped in plastic. On a lightly floured board, roll dough to 1/16-inch thickness; dough should be almost translucent. Use a ravioli cutter or fluted pastry wheel to cut dough into ribbons 6 inches long and 1 inch wide. Tie a knot in the center of each ribbon, and place on the towel-lined pan in a single layer. Keep knots covered as you work.

In a deep-sided pan, heat a generous amount of oil to 350 F. Line a sheet pan with brown bags or paper towels. Fry knots, a few at a time, until they color, about 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t overcook or you will not taste the grappa. Remove with slotted spoon, and place on bags to drain. Sprinkle liberally with confectioner’s sugar. Crostoli are best eaten the day they are made.

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3 Responses to Cookie contest: the envelope, please

  1. Profile photo of Adri Barr Crocetti
    Adri Barr Crocetti December 21, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Well, what a wonderful Christmas baking and cooking surprise! Thank you to all at American Food Roots, and I wish you great success in the new year. Looking at the recipes, I see that I am in very fine company, Buon Natale a tutti!

    • Profile photo of Domenica Marchetti
      Domenica Marchetti December 21, 2012 at 11:40 am #

      Adri ~ thanks to you! We loved your story and your recipe. Buon Natale!

  2. Profile photo of Domenica Marchetti
    Domenica Marchetti December 21, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Just want to say thank you to everyone who participated in our first-ever AFR contest. We enjoyed reading your cookie stories. Wishing everyone a lovely holiday and all the best in 2013. Stay tuned for new stories and contests in the New Year!