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Struffoli (Fried dough balls, without yeast, dipped in honey, Christmas fritters, Easter and Carnival fritters)
Originated from: Naples, Campania
Occasion: Christmas holidays, Carnival and Easter
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Vegetable oil for frying

1/2 cup honey for coating
1/2 tablespoon finely grated zest of 1 orange (optional)


In a mixer beat eggs and sugar.

Add butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and vanilla. Mix well.

Add flour slowly (the resulting batter should have the feel of a sweet bread dough).

When everything is well-mixed, place the mixture on a floured wooden board and work into a fine dough. Let the dough rest for half an hour or so in the fridge.

After the dough has rested, cut small golf-ball size pieces. Shape the balls with your hands or use a spoon.

Heat the vegetable oil and cook the dough-balls, a few at a time, until they are golden brown.

Warm up the honey, and coat the struffoli.

Sprinkle finely grated orange zest on the struffoli (optional).

Cool and serve at room temperature (struffoli taste best fresh).


There are dozens of recipes for stuffoli, some add lemon zest, others orange zest; some avoid sugar in the batter, others have plenty of it. This is my take on the recipe; if anything, it's simple to do. Those who don't like the taste of honey (I'm not that fond of it myself) can omit coating the stuffoli with honey, and simply dust them with confectioner's sugar. Of course, if you do that, then the fried cookie balls will look more like "castagnole" than "struffoli." One can always coat one half of the dough balls with honey, and the other half with dusting sugar, and get the best of both worlds. Apparently, chopped nuts are often served alongside the "struffoli.".... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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