Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Italian Honeyballs


Just in time for Christmas, I'm sharing the DH's family's holiday recipe for struffoli, or as they call them, honey balls.What's great about this dessert is that it's all made on the stove top, freeing your oven for the holiday ham, or perhaps a cake.  Plus, it's fried and, as the DH says, even an old shoe would taste good if it were fried.  (I assure you, these tiny cookies taste much, much better.)

Honey Ball Day (yelled loudly and enthusiastically by certain family members), the day where the entire family gathers to make these treats (and also drink wine and beer), is a tradition begun in 2000 by Lucy, matriarch of the clan who passed away in February. The event was usually held at her Queens apartment, but in recent years, it has been graciously hosted by my brother- and sister-in-law in New Jersey.  My BIL also makes the dough -- he shares his recipe at the end of this post.

Take small pieces of the dough, made in advance, and roll into long strands.


Cut into small pieces.


Then, the fun begins, at least for my BIL, who slaves over a pot of hot oil, boiling the dough.


The fried balls are stored in a bowl, until the remainder of the balls are fried.  This seems to take hours, but it's really not that long (especially if you're not the one frying them and instead enjoying a glass of wine nearby).


The next step is heating honey and, in a large frying pan, coating the fried dough with the honey.


Pile the honeyed balls onto plates (struffoli are often arranged to resemble wreaths to Christmas trees) and sprinkle liberally with colored nonpareils.


Wrap them in cellophane and, voila, you're done!


My very patient BIL, at the stove, below.


Family portrait, with honey balls! (We finally figured out the timer on the camera, thanks to Josh.)


Below is Lucy's recipe -- love the HA HA at the end!



Apparently the recipe changes each year (so much for tradition!), and this is the one we used this year.


Method (courtesy of Bob, my BIL)

Combine the dry ingredients and then place on your work surface.  Make a well in the center.

Combine wet ingredients in a bowl. Pour wet ingredients into the well slowly while mixing the dough.

Once thoroughly mixed, knead the dough about five minutes. Add a bit of water if too dry.  The dough should be elastic.

Let the dough sit at room covered with plastic wrap for an hour.

Once ready for rolling, cut a two inch section and roll into a thin snake, approximately 1/2 in. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces with knife.

Fry in hot oil 350 degrees until golden. Dry on paper and cool.

Once cool, slightly heat honey in big pot and then add the fried dough. Cover dough thoroughly in honey. Spoon honey balls onto small piles on plates and top with nonpareils (not jimmies!!!). Now have honey balls!

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