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Neapolitan struffoli, the dessert of the Campania tradition

Neapolitan struffoli

Here is the recipe for Neapolitan struffoli, a soft dessert typical of Campania cuisine that is prepared during the Christmas holidays.

In Naples it is not Christmas without struffoli, one of the essential Christmas recipes of Campania cuisine. These sweets are small balls of dough that are fried in boiling oil and served with a honey and citrus sauce, often enriched with candied fruit, colored sugared almonds and small pieces of citron.

If you're looking for a delicious and colorful Christmas cake , these little pastry treats are the one for you. Here is the recipe for Neapolitan struffoli!

Neapolitan struffoli
Neapolitan struffoli

How to make Neapolitan struffoli (the original recipe)

  1. To begin, take a bowl and put the eggs, sugar, butter and 1 tablespoon of anise liqueur or other type in it. Then add the sifted flour, salt and baking powder, and begin to knead all the ingredients to form a homogeneous mixture (by hand or with the help of a planetary mixer).
  2. Once the ingredients are well blended together , transfer the dough onto your lightly floured work surface. Keep working it with your hands and give it the shape of a loaf.
  3. Let it rest out of the fridge for about 20 minutes , if possible covered with a kitchen cloth. Once the necessary time has elapsed, make loaves and cut small balls with a knife.
  4. Heat the seed oil, and when it has reached a high temperature, dip a few Christmas struffoli at a time and fry them for about 3 minutes (or until they are perfectly golden). Don't pour them all at once or the oil temperature will drop too much and the treats won't fry well. Once drained from the oil, dry them with kitchen paper and transfer them to a bowl.
  5. To garnish, heat the honey in a saucepan by adding a spoonful of water and add the sugar. Mix well then add the candied citron and the zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange. When the sauce is fluid, turn off the heat and add the struffoli, stirring with a spoon or marisa to make the sauce adhere well to the sweets. Once done, let them cool in a bowl and garnish with colored tails.
  6. Leave to cool (and solidify): your Christmas struffoli are ready to serve. Enjoy your meal!

Do you think it's not an easy Christmas dessert? Here is a video recipe of the preparation that will make you change your mind!

How to make baked struffoli

If you want a lighter version , you can also try baking struffoli instead of frying them.

  1. Once you have obtained your loaf of dough and have let it rest for the necessary 20 minutes, make many small balls.
  2. Arrange the struffoli on a lined baking tray: they will not rise during cooking , but it is important that they are not in contact with each other or they could join together in a single large slab of dough.
  3. Cook them for about 10 minutes at 180°C or until they are golden brown. It is important that you do not get distracted: they burn in an instant! Before proceeding with the decoration, let them cool completely.

Neapolitan struffoli: the story

Their origin is very ancient , even if the people of Campania proudly claim their paternity – always.

Some say they were born in Ancient Greece, hence the word strongoulos (rounded). According to other sources, these sweets are of Spanish origin because they are very similar to the piñonate , a sweet made with elongated balls. Finally, according to others, their name derives from the much more familiar rubbing , the gesture we make in forming the characteristic balls.

Our tradition has it that once upon a time they were prepared by nuns , who brought them as gifts to families who were more generous in their donations. The Neapolitans don't want it, but in reality this dessert is prepared in many Italian regions (Apulia, Marche, Abruzzo and Molise in the lead).

Conservation and variants

We have chosen millefiori honey, but according to your tastes you can also choose one with a more intense flavor , such as chestnut honey.

Instead of sugar sprinkles, then, you can add amaretto grains, chocolate droplets or crumbled meringues. But don't tell the purists of this dessert!

We recommend keeping it in a cool place for about a day; if you keep it too long in the fridge, the dough becomes hard, but at the same time it can't stay too long.

Finally, here are all the Christmas desserts to try absolutely !

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