Updated: Jan 7, 2020
This is a classic Italian Neapolitan dessert. It is made of up deep-fried dough balls, roughly the size of marbles, traditionally coated with honey and usually shaped in a wreath. This is why it is normally served during this Xmas season. I was supposed to make Pannetone this Xmas, as you already knew, but the mold is super pricy to get them overseas. Mainly when the shipping charges are more expensive than the molds itself. Besides re-creating the Xmas Fruit Cake, I also decided to make this Italian dessert.
It indeed took a bit of effort to roll and form the dough into small marble-sized balls. I get my kids to join in the fun tho. The recipe is pretty straightforward. The tricky part is to coat the dough balls with honey and taking them out at the correct timing. Every detail is written in the directions below. Don't worry, I got you covered.
I am using Cointreau. You can of cos use any liqueur as desired. Grand Marnier is a great alternative, but I do find that Cointreau adds a nice orangy citrusy touch to the whole dish. You can totally omit the alcohol and use fresh orange juice instead. I am using almond flakes. You can use any other nuts; walnuts, pecans or even pistachios will be amazing too. Just be sure to coarsely chop them before adding into the dish. I love to decorate my Struffoli with cherries and sprinkles to add more color. I am not sure if that's a tradition tho. Hey, it's Xmas, so why not? Here I wish you lovely people a Merry Xmas!
Unbleached All Purpose Flour, 341g
Baking Powder, 3/4 TSP
Sea Salt, Pinch
Unsalted Butter, 80g
Fresh Orange Zest, 1 Orange
Demerara Sugar, 17g
Light Muscovado Sugar, 16g
Cointreau, 3 TBSP
Canola / Peanut / Vegetable Oil, For Frying
Pure Honey, 200g
Almond Flakes, A Handful
Sprinkles, For Garnishing
Maraschino Cherries, For Garnishing
In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt.
Stir to combine well.
Melt butter in a sauce pot.
After melting, weigh again. If the weight is lesser than 80g, add some canola or peanut oil.
Infuse the melted butter with orange zest.
Set aside to cool down slightly.
Add the butter mixture into the flour mixture.
Add in sugar and Cointreau.
Stir to combine well with a fork.
It should resemble wet sand consistency.
Add in eggs, combining 1 at a time.
Use a spatula to combine well.
Once it comes together into a dough, knead lightly inside the bowl to pick up all the nooks and crannies.
Form into a ball.
Cover with a damp lint-free towel.
Set aside to rest for 30 mins.
Pinch a small dough and roll it into a long log with a small diameter of about 1/4 inch.
Slice into 1/4 inch pieces.
Roll each piece into small balls and set aside.
Repeat the process for the remaining dough.
*Cover all the dough with damp lint-free towels to prevent from drying out.*
In a dutch oven over medium heat, add about 2 inches of oil.
*You can check the temperature of the oil by inserting a wooden chopstick into the oil. If bubbles start forming around the chopstick, the oil is ready for frying.*
Gently drop the dough balls into the oil.
Using a spatula or a chopstick to gently move the dough balls around. This is to prevent them from sticking to one another.
Do not crowd the dutch oven. Fry in small batches.
Fry until golden brown on all sides.
Remove the dough balls using a spider.
Set aside on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off excess oil.
Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls.
Set aside to cool down slightly for about an hour.
In a sauce pot over medium heat, add honey.
Once bubbles start to form around the edges and the honey becomes runny water-like, add in the fried dough balls.
Using a spatula, mix to coat the dough balls well with the hot honey.
Add in almond flakes and mix to combine well.
Once almost all the honey has evaporated, remove the mixture onto a cake stand or a serving plate.
Using a spatula to shape into a wreath shape. It should be sticky enuff to hold it's shape.
Careful as it is still extremely hot.
Scatter some more almond flakes and sprinkles over the top.
Garnish with some cherries.
Set aside for at least 2 hrs before serving.