Struffoli: the delicious Christmas recipe to make Italian honey balls

Total time: 45 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
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By Cookist
Flour type 00
450 g
90 g
3 tbsp
Lemon grated peel
Sea salt
300 ml
candied fruit, cubed
colored sprinkles
Vegetable oil for frying

Struffoli are an easy, impressive Italian recipe traditionally served during Christmas holidays, especially in Naples. Also known as honey balls, they're basically little balls of fried dough coated in a sweet, sticky honey sauce and decorated with rainbow sprinkles.

Super easy to make, these little honey balls are fried until golden brown, crispy on the outside and soft, airy on the inside. Honey gives a sweet boost and make this recipe addicting. Decorate your struffoli as you want by adding colored sprinkles and candied fruit to create a more festive dish.

Serve your struffoli in the shape of a bundt cake or a cone, together with your favorite dessert liqueur. You won't regret.

What are Struffoli?

Struffoli are a typical sweet recipe of the Neapolitan tradition. They are soft chickpea-sized balls of sweet dough which are fried, soaked in honey and, finally, garnished with candied fruit and colored sprinkles.

There are several version of struffoli throughout Italy with different names – cicerchiata (Abruzzo), scalilli (Calabria), or pignolata (Sicily).

It seems that the origin of struffoli, as the name suggests, is Greek. Not only the word "struffolo" derives from the Greek "stróngylos" which means "round" but, in Greek cooking, there is a similar dish, loukoumades, which are sweet pancakes prepared as struffoli.

On the contrary, according to some historians, struffoli origins are Spanish. Among Andalusian sweets, in fact, there is the piñonate, different from Neapolitan struffoli only for its shape and this is the most credited hypothesis for the long Spanish domination that Naples has undergone.

Tips for the Best Italian Struffoli

If your dough is too sticky after kneading, add a little bit of extra flour.

When making Italian struffoli, the best oil temperature is 350°F, so check it with an instant read thermometer. If the oil is too cool, they'll be too oil-logged. On the contrary, if the oil is too hot, they will burn quickly.

Small balls of fried dough tend to float in oil, so use a slotted spoon to favor even cooking.

Honey should be at room temperature. To speed the process, warm honey up in the microwave for a few seconds.

If you don't have flour type 00 on hand, you can replace it with all-purpose flour.

Make sure to drain well your struffoli on a kitchen paper straight after frying.

How to store Homemade Struffoli

You can store homemade struffoli with honey in the refrigeratore for up to 3 days, closed in an airtight container or covered with cling film. Struffoli without honey will last for 5 days in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze Struffoli?

You can freeze fried struffoli for a month, closed into plastic freezer bags. Before serving, let them thaw and add the honey.

How to make Struffoli

For the dough. On a wooden surface, sift the flour with a pinch of salt, add the eggs, granulated sugar and the softened butter, cut into cubes. Add the grated peel of a lemon.

Work the dough first with a fork and then with your hands until you get a soft, smooth and elastic dough. Wrap it in the cling film and let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour.

After the resting time, cut it into small parts.

Work it with your hands creating a thick cylinder. Cut each cylinder with a knife.

Create rectangles or small balls of about one centimeter long. Struffoli do not grow much in volume while cooking as there is no yeast, so keep it in mind when you decide the shape and size of them.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan. When the oil temperature is 350°F, gently place some struffoli on a skimmer, working on batches. They fry quickly for about a minute, so keep them under control to prevent them from browning too much.

Struffoli should be crispy and golden brown.

Drain well the struffoli on a large dish lined with kitchen paper.

In a large pan, heat the honey.

When honey has melted, add the candied fruit and struffoli. Mix well all together gently and add some rainbow sprinkles.

Decorate with extra rainbow sprinkles. Serve and enjoy!

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