Come December, cookie tins everywhere will be filled to the brim with frosted reindeer, gingerbread men and snowballs. We’re all for holiday cookie classics, but if you stick too closely to the tried and true, you might miss out on something truly spectacular.
Struffela is one of those spectacular somethings. This old fashioned, Italian dessert originated in Naples, Italy, which happens to be where our lifestyle marketer Theresa’s family is from.
“Struffela was really special since it took my nana all day to make,” Theresa says. “And because it had sprinkles, I was obsessed with it as a child! Struffela always felt so different from everything else we ate the rest of the year.”
“Different” isn’t a bad description. This beloved dessert is believed to be the descendent of a much older greek dish that was also made by frying dough, though the ancestral dish was not coated in honey or sprinkles.
These honey balls can take on a variety of shapes. If you’re short on time (or eager to dig in) mounding struffela in a bowl is the easy option. However, if you’re looking to add some festive flair, many shape their struffela into Christmas wreaths and trees.
But before you get started, Theresa has one last piece of advice. “Beware that if you try to make this, it’s very, very sticky! You’ve been warned.”
Great Grandma’s Struffela
- 6 cups flour, sifted
- ½ cups + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ ounces Anisette or 1 bottle Anise extract, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 8-9 large eggs
- Two 1 lb. bottles of honey
- 4 tablespoons oil
- Canola or vegetable oil for frying
- Candy sprinkles
- On a large work surface, pour the flour and make a well in the center. Place the 2 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, 1¼ teaspoon anise, vanilla and melted butter in the well.
- Add six eggs to the well and being working the flour into the wet ingredients. Continue mixing the ingredients and add the remaining two or three eggs as you go.
- Continue mixing until ingredients are well combined. Knead well until mixture does not feel sticky (you can even do this in a pasta machine or stand mixer).
- Roll the dough into a long strip (or multiple strips). Cut strips into ½” pieces.
- Meanwhile, pour enough oil to cover the dough into a skillet. Heat over medium-high heat.
- Fry the pieces in oil until they turn golden brown in color. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon; drain and let cool. Once cool, place the fried dough in a brown paper bag to absorb excess oil.
- In a large pot over medium heat, combine honey, ½ cup sugar and ¼ teaspoon anise. Stir until the mixture is very thin.
- Pour the dough balls into the honey mixture and mix well, until dough balls are coated in honey.
- Roll the dough balls in sprinkles.