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Struffoli Neapolitan Struffoli Italian Christmas Sweets

Struffoli, or more correctly Struffoli Neapolitana, are probably one of the most instantly recognizable of all the Italian Christmas sweets. And for many Italians regardless of where they live, they always invoke memories of childhood.

For the uninitiated, Struffoli are tiny round doughnut balls, slightly crunchy, but soaked in an insanely delicious honey syrup, and are typically covered in sugar sprinkles (and sometimes candid peel too). I guess primarily they are aimed for children, but essentially are eaten by children and adults alike. In any case, what adult isn’t a big child at heart?

Personally, I adore them, and could literally eat platefuls, and if you take the time to make these you will know perfectly well, what I am talking about.

Before going on to detail the recipe, I will have to be brutally honest here!
Struffoli are time consuming to make, and frightfully boring. However if you can recruit some willing hands, it can become light work. The end result is however you will agree, undoubtedly worth it.

(enough for 2 serving platters)

Dough balls;
14oz plain flour
4 medium eggs
2oz softened butter
1 and a half teaspoons of baking powder (optional)
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
1 tablespoon of water (add if required)

100ml water, add as required to loosen honey
6 tablespoons of a good quality honey
2 tablespoons of caster sugar

5-6 tablespoons of a light vegetable oil (use as required during process)

1 tablespoon of sugar sprinkles
1 tablespoon of diced candid fruit (optional).


Add the flour, baking powder (if you’re using it), and sugar into a large size bowl. Then make a well into the flour and into it break the eggs, and add the softened butter.

Use a wooden spoon handle, or a chopstick, move and combine the mixture (don’t plunge your hands straight in or it will stick right to you). Once quite well combined, you can then dive in with your hands and bring the mixture together.

The mixture should be quite dry, but if it is too crumbly, add a few drops of water, but don’t worry about leaving a few dry bits at the bottom of the mixing bowl, that’s fine! Once happy, wrap the dough in clingfilm, and chill in a cool place (fridge is great) for 20 or so minutes.

Remove the mixture from the fridge, and by whatever method works for you, make small marble sized balls. Personally I find it quicker to first roll the dough into 1/2″ sausages, and then cut them into chunks, but find your own method that your comfortable with.

In a frying pan, add some vegetable oil, enough that you would envisage is just enough to cover the dough balls. Heat the oil, once hot, fry the balls in small batches, until they’re golden brown then set aside, and allow to cool. Once cooled arrange them on a serving platter.

In a milk pan add all the syrup ingredients, and heat, until you have the consistency of a nice thick syrup (careful not to add all the water at once, loosen honey slowly).

Lastly pour the syrup once cooled slightly, over the doughballs, and allow to cool completely. Once totally cooled, spoon over some more honey, and sprinkle over the garnishes.

Enjoy these within a day or two! The flavours improve the next day!