It would not be a holiday in Naples without seeing the delicious dessert known as struffoli in homes around the city. I first got my taste of this sugary treat several years ago thanks to a Neapolitan friend whose family now lives in Rome. Culinary docent Alberto Serino, who designed our new cooking lesson in Naples, was kind enough to send along an authentic recipe just in time for the holiday season.
Makes 8 servings
600gr (about 4.8 cups) of flour for kneading the dough
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup honey (about 6 ounces)
Garnishes are: multicoloured sprinkles, chopped candied orange peel, citron or cherries.
1. In a large bowl, pour 1 cup of flour and the salt. Add the eggs and lemon zest and stir until well blended.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth for about 5-10 minutes. Add a little more flour if the dough seems sticky. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover the dough with an overturned bowl or a kitchen towel in a dry place. Let the dough rest 30- 40 minutes.
3. Cut the dough into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Roll one slice between your palms into a 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut the rope into 1/2-inch nuggets. If the dough feels sticky, use a tiny bit of flour to dust the board or your hands. (Excess flour will cause the oil to foam up when you fry the struffoli.)
4. Line a tray with paper towels. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a wide heavy saucepan. Heat the oil to 370°F on a frying thermometer, or until a small bit of the dough dropped into the oil sizzles and turns brown in 1 minute.
5. Being careful not to splash the oil, slip just enough struffoli into the pan to fit without crowding. Cook, stirring once or twice with a slotted spoon, until the struffoli are crisp and evenly golden brown(not overcooked), 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the struffoli with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough.
6. When all of the struffoli are fried, gently heat the honey just to a simmer in a large shallow saucepan. Remove from the heat. Add the drained struffoli and toss well. Pile the struffoli onto a serving plate. Decorate with the multicolored sprinkles, candied fruits, or nuts.
7. To serve, break off a portion of the struffoli with two large spoons or a salad server. Store covered with an overturned bowl at room temperature up to 3 days.
Buon appetito e buon natale da Napoli!