What would the holidays be without a heaping pile of stuffoli swimming in honey and generously topped with colorful sprinkles? For those unfamiliar with this seasonal treat it is an Italian specialty usually made at Christmas time. My Aunt Rose made struffoli every year and she didn’t hold back! She would make a huge platter piled high for each household in the family.
It isn’t difficult to make but it is time consuming. This year my mother, my brother and I spent about 2 hours working at a feverish pace to crank these out. If it was just one person doing this it becomes an all day affair. First you make the dough and knead it until you get the right consistency. Then comes the painstaking process of carefully rolling out long strips and cutting the dough into marble size balls. Next you drop them in a pot of very hot oil to deep fry them so they puff up. The frying only takes about 30-45 seconds before you drop them on a paper towel to cool and allow the oil to drain off. My aunt would put them in large brown paper bags and let them drain overnight. Once cooled you pour a large amount of honey into a pot, heat it up, and then drop in the cooled puffs to coat them in a nice thick layer of pure honey. The last step is to arrange on a platter and add the sprinkles.
I’ve had similar desserts such as sopapillas which are popular in Mexican cuisine. It is a sweet puffed tortilla smothered in honey but less dense than the struffoli and definitely not as much honey. The odd thing I find about these little “honey balls” is that I don’t crave them and I usually choose other desserts before I would serve myself a plate but if you start to eat them, the more you eat the more you can’t stop. Just ask my dad.