The last time I went to make struffoli, or as some may know it, pignolata, I was a total hack. I was chef’n on the site Fix My Recipe and was trying to recall as much about food as I could even after being out of it for a few years at that point. I was doing the site because I loved food and loved video but I was pretty young and didn’t quite have the passion and experience I needed. When I made the struffoli back then the little dough balls were rock solid and honestly tasted like nothing and looked even worse. Fast forward 10 years and I am dang proud of the struffoli that made this time around. It’s incredibly festive and really quite easy to make, just need to have some patience.
I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, I originally went to culinary school 18 years ago to become a pastry chef. After my first baking class I realized I didn’t quite have the patience it was going to take to be waiting on dough to rise and for meticulous decorating of cakes. I’ve developed so much more of a joy for baking these days, most likely because I’m 36 and I’ve figured out ways to be doing other things while baked goodies need their resting time. Struffoli doesn’t require a ton of down time, but there definitely is some. My thought is that if you want to impress some friends and family over this holiday season then I’m not sure there is much cooler, or different for that matter, than struffoli.
Struffoli only consists of 5 ingredients, that’s it. There are a few other things needed for the glaze on top but the dough is really simple to make and only has few ingredients. As always, I used Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour. It’s packed with protein and can literally handle the smallest of things like breading chicken, to the big things like artisan bread or a tripe layered cake. Since I’m trying to eat a little cleaner, I’ve been using the Bob’s Red Mill organic flour. I’ve toured their facilities and it is amazing and there isn’t a company on earth that I trust with my food more than them. Rest assured they are the real deal when it comes to providing flours, grains, beans and cereals.
Once you whisk up the eggs, sugar, melted butter and salt you then want to incorporate the flour in and using the hook knead together the dough. There isn’t yeast in this dough, all though that may be a good idea so that they would turn into huge delicious dough balls, but I’m a traditionalist so I’m keeping it legit with this stuffoli recipe. You want the dough the rest for about 30 minutes before you roll it out and make the balls. You do this so the dough doesn’t get tough and stays nice and light after you fry it up.
You want to divide the dough into 4 big chunks and then individually roll them out into long ropes that are about ½” thick or so. Don’t worry about being perfect because the dough balls change size and shape anyways once they’re fried. If you have a deep fryer you can use then I would say use it, but you definitely do not need to. The deep fryer will allow you to fry more at one time making the cooking process a bit shorter. Just a little FYI in case you were needing to save time.
Once the dough balls are fried you want to coat them in s honey simple syrup sauce. It is literally just that. You boil together water and sugar and once it’s combined you want to whisk in some honey. You can also whisk in some citrus zest if you want since this can alter the flavor a bit. I would suggest using orange or lemon if you want to go this route. I added in some chopped pecans when folding the struffoli in with the honey simple syrup just to add a little crunch.
Lastly, I formed everything together into a wreath. I was actually aiming to make a really tall Christmas tree out of it but it was just not cooperating, however I think the wreath turned out pretty cool. Well that’s all I got for now, you know where to find me!!
Homemade Struffoli Recipe with Honey and Pecans
For the Dough:
- 6 eggs
- ¼ cup of melted unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- pinch of Kosher salt
- 3 ½ cups of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
- canola oil for frying
For the Sauce and Toppings:
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- ½ cup of water
- 1/3 cup of honey
- 1/3 cup of chopped pecans
- optional garnishes: sprinkles frozen cranberries, rosemary leaves
Dough: add the eggs, butter, sugar and salt to a standing mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes.
Next, switch to the hook attachment and add in the flour and mix on medium speed until combined and then mix for 3 to 4 minutes to knead.
Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 pieces and then roll out each one like a long rope about a ½” thick. Then, cut the rope again into ½” pieces and roll them in your hands to form them to a ball.
Place them on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and sprinkle on a little flour to keep them from sticking to each other.
Next heat the oil in a pot or fryer to 350°. Cook the struffoli balls a little a time for a few minutes or until lightly browned and cooked in the middle. Set aside on a paper towel to dry.
Sauce: add the sugar and water to a small pot and bring to a boil and then cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the honey.
Next add the struffoli to a large bowl along with the simple syrup honey and pecans, and mix until combined.
Form the struffoli into a wreath shape on a plate and garnish with optional garnishes.