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Pignoccata Pignolata al miele Calabrese
Pignolata/Pignoccata al Miele (Orange-flavored Calabrese fritters, using yeast, square or ball-shaped; topped with honey)
Originated from: Calabria, Italy
Occasion: Christmas and Carnival
Contributed by: Adapted from an Italian cookbook published in the 1980s

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For dough
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 packet (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange liqueur
2 tablespoons lard, melted
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Finely grated zest of 1 small orange

Lard for frying

For topping
1/2 cup honey
1/8 cup sugar
Strips of decoratively-cut orange peel


In a bowl mix flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon, salt and grated orange zest. Keep aside.

Using an electric mixer beat eggs.

Add orange liqueur. Beat.

Add lard and butter. Beat.

Add orange zest and mix well.

Add the flour mixture and work into a malleable soft dough (If it is too soft and sticky, add a touch more flour).

Form the dough into a ball. Cover the dough with a cloth and allow it to rise in a warm room until it increases in volume (about 2 hours).

If one is presenting the fritter as squares, roll out the dough and then cut out squares about 2 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches.

If one is presenting the fritter as balls, make a long cylinder, cut a small piece of dough, and then using the palms of your hands, form tiny balls.

Heat up the lard.

Fry until golden; drain on kitchen paper towels.


Using a double broiler warm up the honey, add the sugar and mix well.

Add strips of the orange peel and let them soak up the honey. Remove and place on a greased plate. Keep aside.

Place a few fritters at a time in the warmed up honey; remove and place on a decorative platter that has been greased or lined with parchment paper.

Decorate the fritters with the honey-soaked strips of orange peel.


Keep in the fridge until ready to serve (The fresher, the better).


In North America "pignolata" or possibly "pignoccata" fritters are generally presented as are struffoli -- very tiny fried balls topped on top of each other. Apparently, it seems that in Calabria, in some areas of the region, they are also presented as squares.... The following text was taken from Italian Wikipedia (Machine Google translation): "Pignolata al miele, The honey-flavored pignolata is a sweet of some areas of southern Italy, mainly in Calabria. It is very similar to struffoli, from which it differs in the shape of a cone and it is fried in lard, also present in the mixture. It is traditionally used during the celebrations of Carnival. The sweet is made from balls of dough fried and covered with honey. In Reggio is presented in the form of a pine cone, hence its name. Recently used to add colored sugar to decorate the cake. According to a recent study, the sweet can be traced back to very ancient ritual of pagan times, prior to the Saturnalia, when men would celebrate the beginning of spring disguised as animals, bear, wolf, deer etc. indulging in great eating and drinking, parties that gave rise to the carnival, then moved into the Christian era. On those occasions, a sweet covered with honey and pine cone shaped symbolized the awakening of the forest...." The following text comes from English Wikipedia: "Struffoli is a Neapolitan dish made of deep fried balls of dough about the size of marbles. Crunchy on the outside and light inside, struffoli are mixed with honey and other sweet ingredients. There are many different ways to dress them, but the traditional way is to mix them in honey with diavulilli (nonpareils sprinkles), cinnamon, and bits of orange rind. In Calabria they are also known as SCALILLI. They are served at Christmas and are sometimes served warm. Struffoli typically have a diameter just bigger than those of M&M's candies, resemble miniature Scones and are often scooped into a small bag for gifts. As the dish is sticky, a glass of water is recommended as accompaniment." Photo: Mary Melfi. Photo: Mary Melfi.

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