Italian Christmas sweets: struffoli from Naples

We are already in the middle of the Christmas preparation, in Italy Christmas tree is decorating the house starting from the 8th of December, hence it is totally normal that we are already planning the menu. so, what is on the Italian Christmas table? Well, obviously this varies a lot according to the region where you are celebrating and in Sicily you will surely eat something different from what your parents in South-Tyrol have.

One of the most characteristic Christmas sweets is however, the struffoli, typical of Naples.  Struffoli is a deep fried sweet, some kind of a doughnut with honey and small candies or candied fruits. The latter should remind us on the Christmas tree decorations.

The name struffoli actually is coming from the Greek word strongulos meaning dough ball and the sweet itself is part of the culinary tradition of the Campania region for decades now. The most famous struffoli makers were the nuns of the monateries of Croce di Lucca and Santa Maria dello Splendore. This seems quite odd as nuns should be  sober in everything and struffoli is surely everything, but not sober or moderate 🙂

And the recipe is:

Ingredients for ten persons (think big, in Italy families are huge):

For the dough:

  • 500 gramms of flour

  • 5 eggs

  • 3 tablespoons of sugar

  • 80 gramms of butter

  • a cup of limoncello or rum

  • lemon zest

  • a pinch of baking powder

  • a pinch of salt

  • oil for deep frying

For the topping:

  • 400 gramms of honey

  • sugar sprinkles

  • 250 gramms of candied fruits


  • prepare the flour on your working table to form a kind of pyramid

  • place the eggs, butter,  lemon zest, salt, baking powder and the liquor in the middle of it

  • start mixing the ingredients first with a fork and then with our fingertips until we get a flexible dough

  • we should knead a ball out of the dough , cover it and let it chill in the fridge for about an hour

  • we should divide the dough then to parts as big as an orange

  • roll these smaller balls into thick sticks (as thick as a finger)

  • cut the sticks into small pieces ( like a hazelnut)

  • lightly dust the balls into flour

  • start heating the oil in a saucepan and start frying your struffolis

  • fry them until they get a nice golden colour. As soon as they are ready place them on a paper towel so that it assorbs the unnecessary oil

  • in a smal dish melt honey with two tablespoons of water and as soon as it forms a foam, take it off the heat, add your balls to the mixture, stir them carefully

  • cut the candied fruits into small pieces and pour it on the struffolis together with sprinkles

If you wish to know more about Italian Christams sweets, take a look at the blanc-manger from Valle d’Aosta or at the torrone!


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