Christmas Struffoli

Struffoli Neapolitan Christmas Treats recipe

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 12 to 14
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
586 Calories
34g Fat
67g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 14
Amount per serving
Calories 586
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 44%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 54mg 18%
Sodium 38mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 67g 24%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 41g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 8mg 40%
Calcium 25mg 2%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 121mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Struffoli, or tiny balls of crisp-fried dough, are either shaped like a wreath or piled into a pyramid. They're topped with a honey glaze and colorful candy sprinkles or candied fruit. The treat is now an absolute requirement at the end of a traditional Neapolitan Christmas Day dinner. However, in introducing them in La Cucina Napoletana, Caròla Francesconi says their inclusion is relatively recent. They are mentioned several times in an Italian cookery book from 1634, but aren't included in that book's Christmas menu.

The recipe for struffoli is quite old, as is indicated by the presence of variations throughout the Mediterranean basin—they are related to the loukoumades of the Greeks and also to the precipizi that Italian Jews make for Hanukkah.

Ingredients

For the Dough: 

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon grain alcohol

  • 1 pat butter

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1/2 lemon, zested

  • 1/2 orange, zested

  • 1 pinch sea salt

  • 2 cups olive oil, or enough for frying

For the Glaze and Serving:

  • 3/4 pound honey

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 4 candied cherries, halved

  • 2 ounces candied orange peel, half cut into strips and half finely diced

  • 2 ounces candied citron, half cut into strips and half finely diced

  • 2 ounces candied melon rind, half cut into strips and half finely diced

  • 2 ounces tiny, multicolored candied almonds (diavolini)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for struffoli Neapolitan Christmas treats
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Combine the flour, eggs, alcohol, butter, sugar, both citrus zests, and salt to make a workable dough. Knead it well and let it sit for at least 1 hour, covered.

    Add eggs and flour
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Pluck off pieces and roll them out using your fingers to form snakes about as thin as your pinkie and cut them into 1/4 inch-long pieces.

    Cut up pieces of dough
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Fry the pieces a few at a time in the hot oil until brown and drain them on absorbent paper. Should the oil start to froth after a bit and the froth overflows the pot, change the oil.

    Fry the pieces
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Take a second, preferably round-bottomed, pot and put the honey, sugar, and water in it.

    Honey, sugar, and water
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  6. Boil the mixture until the foam dies down and it begins to turn yellow. At this point reduce the heat as much as possible.

    Boil mixture
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  7. Add the struffoli and the diced candied fruit.

    Add struffoli
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  8. Stir to distribute everything evenly through the honey and turn the mixture out onto a plate.

    Stir
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  9. Shape the mixture into a wreath with a hole in the middle, dipping your hands frequently into cold water lest you burn yourself.

    Make into wreath shape
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  10. Sprinkle the candied fruit strips and the diavolini over the ring and arrange the cherry halves evenly.

    Add candied fruit
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  11. Serve and enjoy!

    Struffoli
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Tip

  • Struffoli will keep a week or more if covered and improve with age.​​