Gennaro Contaldo cooks a traditional Napoli Christmas sweetmeat little balls of fried dough drenched in honey
By Gennaro Contaldo
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 2 hrs chilling
  • Effort: medium


  • 500 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 50 g softened butter
  • 2 tbsp vin santo or marsala
  • 1 lemon, finely grated zest only
  • 2 oranges, finely grated zest of 1, plus 2-3 large strips pared zest
  • 300 g clear honey
  • olive oil, for deep-frying
  • 50 g flaked almonds
  • 50 g candied fruits, chopped
  • 2 mandarins, pared zest only, cut into fine julienne
  • edible silver balls, to decorate
  • icing sugar, for dusting


1. In a large bowl, mix the flour and sugar together with a pinch of salt.

2. Add the eggs, butter, alcohol, grated lemon and orange zest, and mix well to obtain a dough with the consistency of shortcrust pastry. (If you find the mixture too dry, add a little more alcohol; if your dough is too wet, add a little extra flour.)

3. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill for 2 hours.

4. Take a little of the dough and roll into a thin sausage-shape, 1cm in diameter. Cut into small pieces, 1cm in length. Continue until all the dough has been used, rolling each piece in a little flour.

5. Put the honey on a large plate and set aside.

6. In a deep-fryer or large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the pared orange peel for 1-2 minutes, then remove and discard. (This is done to flavour the oil.)

7. Working a few at a time, deep-fry the dough pieces until golden. Scoop them from the oil with a slotted spoon, shaking to remove the excess oil, and toss them in the honey. Repeat until all the dough has been cooked, mixing well so that all the struffoli absorb some of the honey. Leave to cool.

8. Use a slotted spoon to remove the struffoli from the honey and transfer them to a clean bowl. Stir in the almonds, candied fruit and mandarin zest.

9. To serve, pile the struffoli on a plate in the form of a pyramid, decorate with the silver balls and dust with icing sugar.

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