Struffoli Recipe | Authentic Italian Christmas Dessert
Struffoli is (or we should say "are") a classic Italian Christmas dessert with an interesting origin. Formed by a mass of tiny fried dough balls glazed solid with honey, the treat was so made because it preserved the dessert for a long period of time. Remember that in Italy, Christmas lasts a very long time!
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
For this recipe, you will need:
- 3 1/3 cup (400g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 3 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 1/4 tbsp (40g) granulated sugar
- 4 1/2 tbsp (60g) lard
- ~1 tsp lemon zest
- 4 tsp limoncello or rum
- Frying oil (we recommend peanut)
- 1/2 cup (200g) honey
- Sprinkles for topping
- Candied cherries for topping
Pour the flour into a pile upon a large, clean work surface. Hollow out the center with your hand. Into the hollow, add the eggs, egg yolk, sugar, lard, lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and 3 tsp limoncello.
Using your hand, begin mixing the ingredients together while incorporating the surrounding flour. When a manageable dough forms, knead it until it is very smooth and uniform. Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
When the dough has rested, generously dust a large baking sheet or cutting board with flour. Cut a small chunk of the dough from the main ball and roll it by hand into a long snake, about 1 finger in width. Slice this snake into small pieces, also about a finger in width. Place these little dough balls onto the floured baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.
Fill a large, deep pan with about 2 inches of frying oil and bring up to medium/high temperature. Place 2-3 handfuls of dough balls into a mesh strainer, gently shake them to remove any excess flour, and carefully pour them into the oil. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden. Remove them with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined dish.
Repeat this process until all of the balls have been fried.
Now it's time to glaze them! Place the honey and the remaining tsp of limoncello into a large skillet over medium/low heat. The honey will melt into a liquid and, as soon as it starts to bubble, pour the fried balls into the pan.
Stirring and turning constantly, continue to cook the struffoli until the excess honey in the bottom of the pan has been absorbed by the dough. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 1-2 minutes before plating.
The simplest way to serve the struffoli is in one large pile on a serving plate. If you're feeling fancy, you can also heap them around a cup or jar which can be removed later to create a ring shape.
In any case, carefully arrange the struffoli as desired. While the honey is still warm, sprinkle the dessert with colorful sprinkles. If you made a ring shape, wait until the honey has cooled but not completely hardened before carefully removing the center cup.
Finally, top the dish with a few well-placed candied cherries. Allow the honey to cool and harden completely before serving. Buon appetito!