Have you ever had a struffoli? To me, it says Christmas with my family. These little fried dough balls are coated with honey and sprinkled with non-pareils (those little colored balls).
Struffoli are honey dough balls that many Italian families enjoy at Christmas. It seems the tradition is most popular in the southern part of Italy.
From what I read, the dough balls are meant to represent the balls on the Christmas tree and the sprinkles represent the many colors. Italians seem to enjoy fried dough so this seems to be the perfect holiday dessert. Although the honey is sweet the dough balls are not which is typical of Italian desserts especially after a big meal.
It was always fun to make them. After the dough is made you roll them out like snakes and then cut into little pieces. Then the dough is fried. When you are ready to serve, top these little mini-doughnuts with honey and non-pareils.
Our family used to make them every year when we were together but we haven't been doing it as often. I made them for an event in early December and then never made them again, although I kept saying I would. I suppose there are still a few days left in the month so maybe I'll try it this week with the kids. If you have time, they are worth the preparation. My tip, though, is to only put honey (or agave nectar) on the struffoli you are serving rather than all of them; otherwise they will become soggy and the little balls will start to "bleed".
The other thing that is nice about this recipe is that it's easy for children; rolling and a simple cut (think plastic knife). I suppose I'd keep them away from the fryer, though! Enjoy.
This is a recipe for a dense dough.
3 1/2 c unbleached flour
6 Tbl sugar
12 egg yolks (save the whites for omelets or meringue)
3/4 c heavy cream
3 Tbl Sambucca or rum (or vanilla)
Oil or shortening for frying (about 1/2-1 cup)
Honey or agave nectar
Non-pareils or colored sprinkles
Mix the flour and the sugar in a big bowl. Make a well in the middle. Mix the egg yolks, cream and Sambucca or rum in another small bowl. Pour into the well of the flour mixture and stir until well combined. If necessary, use your hands. Dough should be tacky, bright yellow but not sticky. If it is, use extra flour when rolling.
Take pieces of dough and roll out into a long log that is about 1/2" in diameter and about 16" long (a little smaller than a pretzel rod in diameter, maybe twice the length). Keep the dough covered while rolling. Using a knife, cut into small pieces, about 1/2". Place pieces on a cookie sheet. Add extra flour on the sheet to prevent the pieces from sticking together.
When all of the dough is rolled out, heat a large pot and add oil (I used my Le Creuset dutch oven and liked the way it came out). When oil is hot, place one dough ball in oil to test. It should bubble a bit and roll around. Working in batches, fry all of the dough balls.
When ready to serve, place in a large bowl and pour honey or agave nectar on top (I used both) and stir to coat. Top with sprinkles and serve in individual bowls.