Struffoli Italian Honey Balls are a specialty treat during the Christmas holidays. They’re deep fried morsels of dough which are then dipped in a lemon honey syrup and topped with festive sprinkles
One thing I can pretty much predict for this holiday season is definitely a white Christmas.
Not that we’ve had a copious amount of snow in one snowfall. However, 5 centimetres or so of the white fluff every other day is certainly adding up.
But no complaining here! I much rather prefer the snow to the frigid cold air that’s gripping us today.
However, and more importantly are these Struffoli or rather honey balls which will most certainly grace our table this holiday season.
What are Struffoli
Struffoli are teeny puffs of dough the size of a hazelnut and are deep fried till golden brown in colour. Then, they’re tossed in a warm honey and lemon syrup which the fritters lovingly soak up.
There’s a small amount of sugar in the dough itself and gets most of its sweetness from the warmed honey so do choose a good quality one.
I’ve added one of hubby’s fine grappas to the dough mixture but there are other great alternatives. You can use limoncello which would greatly compliment the lemon honey syrup. Rum or brandy are also wonderful choices.
How To Serve Struffoli, Italian Honey Balls
There are many ways you can be creative when serving up these morsels!
Dust off your favourite holiday platter and pile them up high. Add a generous sprinkle of some festive nonpareils and you’ll have the appearance of a Christmas tree.
Or shape into a Christmas wreath. Simply grease a tall glass and place it in the centre of your serving plater and spoon handfuls of the honey balls around the glass.
Decorate with candied red and green cherries, sprinkles and allow to set an hour or so then remove the glass.
The Many Names of Struffoli, Italian Honey Balls
Struffoli are deep fried, honey drenched little morsels from Naples and are a typical Christmas time treat. Its history dates back to the 8th century when the Greeks colonized the southern Italian peninsula.
As with most Italian foods, these Struffoli are similar to other treats from different regions in Italy and go by different names.
In Abbruzzo, Le Marche and in Umbria they’re called Cicerchiata. In Basilica…Cicirata and in Calabria they’re known by Turtiddi.
And, as a reader kindly pointed out, in Sicily they are known as Pignoccata or even Pignolata!
Whatever name you may call them we can certainly agree that they’re fun to make, yummy and extremely addictive!
Other Holiday Cookies You’ll Love:
If you make this recipe remember to tag @marisasitaliankitchen on Instagram so I can see your creation!
Struffoli Italian Honey Balls
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons oil I used canola
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons grappa limoncello or rum are also good choices
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour approximately
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- 1 cup honey
- grated zest of a lemon
- sprinkles of your choice
- In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, grappa and milk.
- Stir in the salt, baking powder, 3 cups of the flour and the remaining 1/4 cup of flour only as much as you need to achieve a soft malleable dough.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and with floured hands knead lightly for a minute.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for a 1/2 hour.
- Cut off small pieces of dough at a time and roll out into 1/2 inch thick ropes. If the dough feels sticky, dust your hands lightly with flour.
- Cut the ropes into small pieces the size of a hazelnut and shape into round balls with your hands.
- Transfer the shaped balls to parchment lined cookie sheets and repeat with the remaining dough. (you'll need 2 parchment lined cookie sheets)
- Fill a large and heavy deep sauce pot with oil, reaching about 2 inches high in the pot.
- Heat the oil over medium high heat to about 350 degrees F. Use a candy thermometer for accuracy.
- Fill a spider ladle or skimmer ladle with the pieces of dough and then using the ladle gently lower it into the hot oil.
- Fry until golden brown for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then transfer onto a paper lined tray to drain.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. I fried the tiny balls in 3 batches)
- In a separate large frying pan, heat the honey to a gentle simmer over low heat.
- Add the lemon peel, stir and turn off the heat.
- Add all the fried struffoli to the warmed honey and gently stir till the fried balls are evenly coated.
- Arrange the honey balls on a serving plater and pour any remaining honey mixture over the struffoli.
- Top with sprinkles of your choice and serve slightly warm or cooled off, allowing your guests to pluck the little morsels with their hands