BY CAMILLE ORRICHIO LOCCISANO
It is that struffoli time of year, and I want to thank so many of my readers and followers who emailed me requesting the recipe for this tantalizing and addictive dessert. It is my pleasure to respond during this season in which struffoli is among the most anticipated of holiday foods.
If there is such a thing as a dessert that is actually revered among Italians, it is struffoli. They are certainly in very close competition with cannoli.
Since my childhood, my sister and I have been making struffoli with my mother and my grandma Sue. For Italians, this is a dessert that actually fills the air with excitement simply by discussing the preparation. We eagerly await that ultimate eating moment when we pop each sweet morsel into our mouths.
For those you who are not familiar with struffoli, they are a very traditional Italian Christmas treat that you have surely seen in local Italian bakeries as well as at your holiday office party. First, a scrumptious dough is formed. Next, we roll the dough into strips in order to cut marble-sized balls.
We then fry the dough balls to a tender crisp and bath them in sweet honey. Nonpareils are the grand finale to making this a festive dessert keeping with the spirit of the holiday.
There are many recipes out there for struffoli and also a lot of opinions on the very best way to prepare the dough. Some Italian-Americans keep it simple and use just flour and water. Other families prefer a richer dough and add limoncello.
My recipe has a bit of a cookie texture. We use baking powder as a leavening agent, and this allows the struffoli to puff up nicely while frying in the oil.
No matter what recipe you use, struffoli will lead the way toward a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. My best wishes to all of you during this joyous season.
2 pounds all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 ounces Crisco
1 ounce vanilla
3 1/ 2 teaspoons baking powder
On a clean work surface, form the flour in the circular shape of a wreath in order to have an empty well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the middle of the well and add the sugar.
Add Crisco to the eggs in small spoonfuls. Pour the vanilla into the eggs, and dust the baking powder into the wreath of flour. With your hands, slowly mix the ingredients together until a smooth dough forms.
Wrap the dough in a kitchen towel to prevent drying while you work.
Cut the dough into one portion at a time and roll each portion into a strip. On a floured work surface, cut the strips into marble-sized pieces.
Fill a large pot with canola oil three quarters of the way. Heat the oil to 375° or test it by lightly tossing in one struffola. It should brown in a few minutes.
Fry the struffoli in batches, about three minutes each batch. Use a slotted spoon to turn them. Transfer each batch to a tray covered with paper towels to drain well.
In a smaller pot, warm honey and add the fried struffoli in batches. Coat the struffoli well in the honey. Arrange the struffoli attractively on a tray and top with nonpareils.