One of my favorite things about Christmas is baking. My family did that growing up and it stuck with me. I have a number of favorite Christmas recipes and one of them is strufoli, or struffoli. (I’ve seen it spelled both ways but the cookbook passed down by my dad’s mom spells it with one ‘f’ so I’m sticking to that.)
If you eat strufoli when it’s warm, it’s almost like a glazed doughnut. They’re super festive, not too difficult to make, and can be out for days for holiday nibbling and snacking.
Here’s the recipe, with a few tweaks of my own, from my Grandma Codella’s cookbook…
Strufoli – Italian Honey Clusters – Little Honey Balls
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white grape juice
¼ cup oil (plus 1 quart oil for frying)
6 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups honey
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup pine nuts or slivered almonds, chopped (if desired)
candied cherries for decorating (if desired)
Combine 4 cups flour with baking powder and salt. Add white grape juice, ¼ cup oil, eggs and vanilla, blend together. Knead dough on lightly floured board until smooth and soft. Divide dough in half, keeping one half covered with a damp cloth.
On well-floured surface roll other half of dough to ¼ inch thickness, then cut into ½ inch strips. With palms of hands, roll each strip into a pencil-shape roll. With floured knife, cut each roll into ¼ inch pieces.
In deep saucepan, heat ~1 quart of oil to 350°. Drop in some of the pieces and cook until evenly browned. Remove with slotted spoon, drain on brown paper bags or paper towels. Repeat with rest of pieces and rest of dough.
In one-quart saucepan, simmer honey and sugar to 250° or until a little honey dropped in cold water forms a soft ball. Remove from heat and stir in pine nuts/almonds if desired. Pour honey over mounds on several small serving plates. Sprinkle with white, red and green candied sprinkles. Top with candied cherries if desired.
Serve as delightful nibblers at dessert time.
Makes about 12 cups of honey clusters.