Struffoli have a very interesting history. Some believe they originate from Greece and are cousins of the famous “loukoumades.” Their name could also bear Greek origins: it may come from the word strongoulos or stroggulos, which means round shaped.
Interestingly, struffoli became popular in Southern Italy thanks to… convents. In Naples in particular, nuns would prepare them to offer them as a Christmas gift to all those noble families who, during the year, had distinguished themselves for their sense of charity and piety.
Antonio Latini, in the 16th century, mentions them in his culinary treatise, even though it calls them “struffoli alla Romana.”
Struffoli come in many varieties and recipes, but almost all good cook agree in saying they need to be small, so that honey can cover them entirely and they reach the right point of sweetness and deliciousness.
- 400 gr flour
- 40 gr sugar
- 60 gr butter
- 1/2 orange peeled and grated
- 3 full eggs and 1 egg yolk
- 1 pinch salt
- 15 gr aniseed liqueur
- 35 gr sugar sprinkles
- 350 gr honey
- 30 gr candied orange
- The first thing to do is to melt the butter and let it cool completely.
- Once it is cold, place the flour, eggs, grated orange peel, cold melted butter and, at the end, the aniseed liqueur, in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well, then transfer the dough on the counter and knead it well, until you obtain a smooth and homogeneous dough ball. Cover it with a tea towel and let it rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
- After, slice the dough ball in 6-7 parts. Roll each of them into dough sticks of about 1/2 inch diameter, then cut them into small, 1/2 inch pieces. Place them on a teatowel, making sure they do not touch each other (they would stick otherwise!).
- At this stage, we are ready to fry our struffoli!Pour enough oil in a pan to comfortably deep fry our dough balls in and, when it is nice and hot, place the struffoli in it with the aid of a skimmer. Ideally, the oil should reach a temperature of 180 degree Celsius and to keep it hot you should cook the struffoli in small quantities.They should be ready, all golden and fragrant, in about 3-4 minutes. Make sure to transfer them on a tray covered in kitchen paper, so that the excess oil can be drained off them.
- Before preparing the coating and assemble our struffoli "donut," let them cool completely. You can employ this time to slice the candied orange and lemon peels in small pieces, as both will be part of the coating you are about to prepare.
- When the struffoli are cold, heat up the honey in a pan on a low heat and, once it is runny and melted, add to it the struffoli, the sprinkles and the citrus peels you chopped.
- Now, the fun part begins: take a large plate and a jar or a nicely sized glass. Place in the middle of the plate and distribute the honey and struffoli mixture around it. This will give the struffoli, once the honey solidifies, their typical "donut" (or crown) shape!
- Of course, remove the glass gently before serving!