I still remember by grandmother hovering over the kitchen table, rolling marble-sized balls of dough in her delicate little hands. She’d hum Andrea Bocelli while she sprinkled extra flour on her cutting board as she prepared to roll the dough. It was like some sort of culinary performance as she danced around the kitchen preparing her family’s favorite Christmas dessert. Some people bookmark the start of the holiday season when the Christmas tree goes up; we marked it as soon as the first batch of Struffoli was made.
My grandmother knew how to make Struffoli inside and out and could make this dessert in her sleep. I don’t remember one Christmas without out it. Everyone in the family, all of our neighbors, all of our friends flocked to the coffee table where we kept all the holiday cookies and treats through the month of December. The Struffoli? Always the fist tin opened.
What is Struffoli?
Struffoli aka honey balls is a classic Neapolitan Italian dessert. The dough is fragrant with orange and lemon zest then rolled into small marble-sized balls and dripped with honey. Basically, the most addictive, delicious dessert you can find.
What do I need to make struffoli?
Food processor: Using a food processor makes it easy to make the dough.
Cutting board: You’ll need a cutting board large enough to roll out the dough into strips.
Cast iron pan or Dutch oven: You’ll need a heavy bottom pan to fry the dough in and make the honey topping.
Sprinkles. Lots of sprinkles.
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- 2 cups of all purpose flour, more for rolling dough
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp of softened butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- orange zest
- lemon zest
- vegetable oil for frying
Make the honey mixture
- 1 cup of honey
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- orange zest
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Give it a few pulses just enough to mix together all the dry ingredients.
Add the softened butter, 3 eggs, vanilla, zest of half an orange and zest of half of the lemon.
Pulse until dough ball forms.
If you have the time, wrap up the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
Pour vegetable oil in a dutch oven or cast iron pan. Add enough oil so it's 1-2 inches deep into the pan. You want to make sure the dough is completely covered in the oil once placed in.
Once your dough ready, lightly flour your cutting board and cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Then, cut each divided piece into 1/2 inch wide strips. Cut marble-size pieces from each strip and roll each marble-sized piece into a ball.
Fry the dough balls (in batches!) until golden brown. Your oil should be 375 degrees. Place cooked struffoli on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
Make the honey: In a medium-sized skillet or dutch oven, over low-medium heat, mix together the honey, sugar, and orange zest until the sugar completely dissolves.
Add the struffoil to the honey mixture and mix well.