This Christmas Eve dessert is one of those once-a-year goodies. I'm not going to lie: This recipe requires a bit of patience. It will feel like you've rolled out a million balls of dough by the time you're done, but get some friends and family involved and things will move faster.
Technique tip: Avoid over mixing to ensure cakey struffoli. These are best served the day they are made; however, you can fry the balls, cool and wrap well in plastic wrap. Make and coat with the honey glaze the day you are serving.
Swap option: Use lemon zest and juice instead of orange.
- 1½ cups honey
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- Canola oil, for frying
- Honey glaze (recipe above)
- Rainbow nonpareils, for garnish
For the honey glaze:
1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
2. Cook, over medium heat, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Do not bring to a boil.
3. Keep warm until ready to use.
For the struffoli:
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well to combine.
2. Meanwhile, in another large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and zest using a hand mixer.
3. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until incorporated.
4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough comes together. Do not over mix.
5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, in a high-sided skillet, heat a couple inches of oil to 350°F.
7. Using a bench scraper, cut off 1/2-inch pieces of the dough.
8. Roll the dough into a rope slightly thicker than a 1/4-inch in width.
9. Use the bench scraper to cut the rope into 1/4-inch pieces.
10. Roll each piece of dough into a ball; they do not need to be perfect and should be approximately the size of a hazelnut.
11. Repeat until all the dough has been shaped.
12. Working in small batches, carefully add the dough balls to the oil and fry until lightly golden brown, about 45-60 seconds.
13. Drain on paper towels.
14. Place the drained balls into a large bowl.
15. Drizzle all but a few tablespoons of the warm honey glaze over the balls and gently toss to coat.
16. Place the balls onto a serving plate, drizzle the remaining glaze over the top and sprinkle with the nonpareils.