I remember the days when you could only get Peeps for Easter. Now they’re available year-round. While I sometimes appreciate the fact that I can have them whenever the mood strikes, they’re somewhat less enjoyable since they are so available. It makes me appreciate those once-a-year goodies, like this Christmas Eve dessert. I’m not going to lie – this recipe requires a bit of patience. It will feel like you’ve rolled out a million balls of dough by the time you’re done, but get some friends and family involved, and things will move faster.
A lot of the struffoli I’ve had just haven’t been good. They are often on the hard side and drenched in syrup. My version is a bit more cakey – okay, VERY cakey, and slightly less sweet, and they are DAMN GOOD.
FOR THE HONEY GLAZE:
- 1 ½ cups honey
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
FOR THE DOUGH BALLS:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces butter, room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- Canola oil, for frying
- Rainbow nonpareils, for garnish
- MAKE THE HONEY GLAZE. In a small saucepan, stir the honey, sugar, orange juice and salt to combine.
- Cook, over medium heat, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved; do not bring to a boil.
- Keep warm until ready to use.
- MAKE THE DOUGH BALLS. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt until well combined.
- In another large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and zest using a hand mixer.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate before adding the next.
- Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together; do not overmix.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a high-sided skillet, heat a couple inches of oil to 350 degrees.
- Using a bench scraper, cut off ½” pieces of the dough.
- Roll the dough into a rope slightly thicker than a ¼” in width.
- Using the bench scraper, cut the rope into ¼” pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into a ball; they do not need to be perfect and should be approximately the size of a hazelnut. Repeat until all the dough has been shaped.
- Working in small batches, carefully add the dough balls to the oil and fry until lightly golden brown, for about 45 to 60 seconds.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the struffoli to a paper towel-line sheet pan to drain excess oil.
- Transfer the struffoli to a large bowl.
- Drizzle all but a few tablespoons of the warm Honey Glaze over the balls, and gently stir to coat.
- Place the balls onto a serving plate, drizzle the remaining glaze over the top and decorate with the nonpareils.