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Italian Pastry Great for Winter Months

The holidays are over, but the weather is still chilly. If you want something to warm you up on a cold morning, try this Italian pastry that is easy to make and fun to eat. It’s called Struffoli, and it was a big part of my childhood. My grandmother would send containers full of this treat every year. Although it is traditionally consumed at Christmas time, it can be enjoyed all year long.

Gather Your Ingredients

These tiny “honey balls” as my grandmother used to call them, can be made a few different ways. Most recipes call for some sort of limoncello or white wine, but you can play around with the recipe and see what you like best.


This recipe from Marisa’s Italian Kitchen calls for:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp oil (Canola usually works best)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp limoncello or rum
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 ¼ cups all purpose flour (you’ll need some to roll the dough)
  • Oil to fry the dough

    Some recipes include lemon or orange zest in the dough mixture. This recipe calls for lemon zest in the honey mixture that will coat the dough once it is fried.

    Honey Mixture

  • 1 cup honey
  • Lemon zest (a whole lemon’s worth)

How to Make Your Struffoli

Combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, limoncello (or wine). Stir in the dry mixture of salt, baking powder, and three cups of the flour. You’ll need the other ¼ cup for rolling out the dough. Once dough is formed, flour a clean work surface and knead the dough. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and let it set for at least 30 minutes.

After the dough has rested, dust your hands with flour and begin rolling the dough out on your work surface. You’ll want to roll it flat until it is about ½ inch thick. Cut the flat dough into long strips about ¾ inch long. Roll these strips into ropes. Begin pulling small sections of the ropes until you form little balls, about the size of a marble. Once you have done this with all the dough, it is time to fry your Struffoli.

Heat your oil (about ½ inch high in the pan). Use a spatula or a flat server to drop the balls into the oil. Let each ball cook for about two minutes on each side, or until it is golden brown. Use a skimmer ladle to remove the balls.

Making the Honey Sauce

In another pan, heat one cup of honey with the lemon (or orange) zest. Pour over cooled Struffoli.

Topping Alternatives

While the honey sauce by itself is amazing, these little dough balls have a variety of topping options. At Christmas time, my kids decorated them with cookie icing to leave out for Santa. We have also been known to dust them with powdered sugar and drizzle them with melted chocolate. The sky’s really the limit with these tasty pastries.

Struffoli-like Shortcut

Sometimes life is busy and I don’t have time to mix up the homemade Struffoli dough. When I’m in a pinch and I have promised my children this treat, I will sometimes purchase refrigerated biscuit dough and use the same process. They don’t taste exactly like Struffoli, but they are still great topped with powdered sugar and melted chocolate.

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Categories:  Recipes
Keywords:  Recipes

About the Author

Jessa McClure

Jessa McClure

Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of three energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys playing board games with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects. 

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