Struffoli (Sweet fritters)



Struffoli (Sweet fritters)

Neapolitan tradition is full of recipes, including sweet ones such as "mostaccioli", black cherry cookies, curly puff pastry, shortbread and the inevitable "struffoli", sweet fritters that are the most characteristic desserts of the Christmas holidays. For those who have never heard of struffoli before, they are small balls of sweet dough that are fried, dipped in honey, and decorated with colored candies and candied fruit. As for the origins of sweet fritters, we must go back to the age of the ancient Greeks who apparently exported them to the Gulf of Naples in the era of Parthenope. According to many, the name "struffoli" is also derived from the Greek word "strongoulos", or "rounded shape". Other theories argue that the Italian word "struffolo" derives from the word "rubbing", the gesture made by those who work the dough, to roll it into cylinders before cutting it into chunks. Still others think that the sweet honey balls earned their name because they "rub" the palate, or tickle it with their sweet taste. Despite being a very well known and appreciated delicacy, the honey balls are mostly popular in southern Italy, where there are several versions all similar to the original recipe but with different names: in Calabria they are called "cicirata" or "turdiddi", in Umbria and Abruzzo "cicerchiata" and in Palermo "strufoli".


Sugar 3 tbsp (40 g)
Flour 00 3 ½ cups (400 g)
Butter ¼ cup (60 g) - to be melted
Orange peel 1
Eggs 3 - (medium)
Egg yolks 1 - (from a medium egg)
Fine salt 1 pinch
Anise liqueur 1 tbsp (15 g)
for the topping
Colored sprinkles to taste
Wildflower honey ½ cup (175 g)
Candied orange 1 oz (30 g)
Candied citron 1 oz (30 g)
Food decorations to taste - silver-colored candy
Candied cherries to taste
for frying
Peanut seed oil to taste

How to prepare Struffoli (Sweet fritters)

To make honey balls, melt the butter and let it cool. In the meantime, put the flour, sugar 1, eggs, a pinch of salt, grated orange peel 2, and melted butter 3 in a bowl

with the anise liqueur 4. Start kneading by hand in the bowl, then transfer the dough to a pastry board 5 and knead until a compact and homogeneous dough ball is created 6.

Cover with a clean cloth 7, then let rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. After the rest time has elapsed, take the brick 8, divide it into 6-7 equal parts with a knife 9.

With each piece, create sticks approximately 1/3 inch (1 cm) 10 thick. Cut the sticks into small 1/3 inch (1 cm) pieces 11 and place them on a sheet, ensuring that they do not overlap 12.

To cook the balls: heat the peanut oil in a pot, and when it is hot, dip theballs with a skimmer 13. For optimal frying, make sure that the oil reaches a temperature of approximately 355° F (180° C) with a food thermometer. To keep the temperature stable, only cook a few fritters at a time. Mix with a skimmer to obtain a uniform cooking; 2-3 minutes will be enough to obtain a golden color at the right point; drain them 14 and transfer to a tray covered with absorbent paper to dry the excess oil 15.

Let the balls cool and melt the honey in a pot over low heat 16, when the honey has melted pour over the Struffoli and stir to amalgamate 17. Turn off the heat and let cool, then add the colored sugar 18.

Cut the candied oranges and citron into small cubes (19-20), pour them into the pot with the balls, 21 and stir gently with a spoon.

Take a serving dish, place a glass jar in the center of the dish that will be used to create the crown shape, and distribute the balls 22 around the jar. When the honey has solidified, gently remove the jar from the center of the dish 23. Decorate with candied cherries and silver-colored candied almonds, then serve your Struffoli 24.


Store the fritters for 3-4 days under a bell-shaped glass cloche. You can keep unglazed fried balls in a tin box for a week, or you can freeze them.

If you prefer you can prepare the dough up to 3 hours in advance and keep it in the fridge.


If you don't have or don't like anise, you can easily use limoncello or whatever liquor you prefer instead! The honey balls are often prepared without the addition of candied fruit, especially outside of Campania: they will be equally good, even if candied fruit is a "must" in Christmas cakes! Especially the famous "cucuzzata", candied pumpkin that is found only in Naples: if you manage to find it, your sweet honey balls will be perfect! For lighter cooking, bake the struffoli in the oven at 390° F (200° C) for 13 minutes.

Interesting fact

A long time ago in Naples, sweet honey balls were prepared in convents by the nuns of various orders and given as gifts at Christmas to noble families that stood out for their acts of charity.