The Latin American word for underwear - calzones - used to be a great source of amusement (and confusion) for our kids whenever we ate at an Italian restaurant.
These Chilean cookies have the even greater giggle-inducing name calzones rotos, which literally means torn underwear. Most likely they are named for their distinctive shape, but there is a story that a gust of wind blew up the skirt of a woman selling these traditional pastries in the town square, revealing her torn underwear. I think they look more like twisted up pairs of underwear, the kind my kids sometimes leave on their bedroom floor rather than in the laundry basket. But if you need a more appetizing association, it could be said that they resemble ribbons or bowties.
The dough for these cookies is similar to many types of fried cookies - not too sweet, crispy, and tasty. They are European in origin - can you see the resemblance to Barbara Rolek's recipe for the Polish cruller cookies called chrusciki? Her pictures showing how to shape these cookies are very helpful - the same exact technique is still used in Chile after all these years.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (or orange zest)
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
- 3 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 2 tablespoons Pisco (or other brandy)
- 5 cups vegetable oil for frying
Whisk together the flour, powdered sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, almond flavoring, and lemon zest. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry mixture and stir briefly. Add the softened butter and work it into the dough with your fingers until well mixed (dough will be stiff).
Add the Pisco, 1 tablespoons at a time, kneading the dough after each tablespoon, until you have a smooth, pliable dough. It should not be too crumbly.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy pot with deep sides to 350 F.
On a lightly floured smooth surface, roll out half of the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Cut strips of dough into rectangles, approximately 2 inches wide by 4 inches long (a pizza cutter works well for this).
Make a one-inch long slit in the middle of each rectangle, and pull one end of the rectangle through the slit, creating a sort of bowtie/knot shape (or torn underwear, depending on your perspective). Keep the pastries covered with plastic wrap until you are ready to fry them. Roll out the remaining dough and cut and shape into cookies.
Fry the cookies in the oil, working in batches as needed, until they are golden brown on both sides, turning them at least once. Carefully remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar while they are still warm.
These cookies are best the day that they are made, but will keep in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.