This article is also available in: Italian
Struffoli are the Neapolitan dessert par excellence – together with puffs and pastiera (puff pastry filled with cream cheese, barley and candied fruit). Ancient Greeks brought the recipe to Italy when the city was founded. Since then, struffoli became the traditional Christmassy dessert in the Naples area.
The name struffoli probably comes from the Greek word strongulus pristòs, which means round cut. However, someone says the name refers to their preparation – they are made by rubbing the dough – or to the lard used to cook them. All these delicious balls look the same, but they hide different flavours and consistency. The trick? Try as many as you can in different places!
PREPARATION TIME 20 minutes + frying time
• 600g all-purpose flour
• 4 eggs
• 1 egg yolk
• 2 tbsp sugar
• 80g butter
• 1 small glass of limoncello or rum
• 1 lemon zest, grated
• A pinch of salt
• Oil or lard, for frying
• 400g honey
• Coloured sprinkles (called “diavulilli”)
• Cinnamon sprinkles
• 100g candied orange, 100g candied citron, 50g candied pumpkin (called “cucuzzata”)
Place flour onto a work surface. Make a well in the centre and add eggs, butter, sugar, zest of half lemon, a small glass of rum and salt. Combine the ingredients together and knead to form a smooth dough. Shape the dough into a ball and let rest for 30 minutes.
Knead again and divide the dough into equal-sized balls, about the size of an orange. Place each ball on the work surface and roll into a long strip, about 1-2cm tick. Chop into small pieces and place over a floured dish towel.
Shake in sieve to remove excess flour.
Heat oil and put in a few pieces at a time. Fry until golden. Drain and transfer on paper towels.
Use a double boiler to melt honey. Remove from heat and stir struffoli in. Mix gently until honey is completely absorbed. Pour in half of the sprinkles and chopped candied fruit. Keep mixing.
Take a plate. Place an empty jar in the middle of the plate. Arrange struffoli all round so as to form a sort of big donut. Cover with the remaining sprinkles and candied fruit for a pleasant presentation of the dish.
When honey has hardened, gently remove the jar from the centre of the plate and serve struffoli.
TIPS AND CURIOSITY
This traditional recipe doesn’t include yeast among the ingredients.
If you prefer your struffoli more swollen, you can add to the mixture a pinch of baking powder. In this case, the dough has to rest for a few hours.