If you are looking for an edible table decoration for any occasion, look no more. These heavenly delicious Italian honey balls can be shaped into a wreath and make your guests’ jaws drop! You can also just pour them in a bowl and enjoy as they are. Perfect either way!
Guys, I’m waiting for your congratulations! What? Don’t you know a reason? It’s my 200th post on the blog, sillies! I can’t actually believe that I reached this crazy number. Seriously. It was so many ups and downs on this complicated blogging journey but your comments, emails, and your support kept me going. The blog would probably have even more posts if I wouldn’t take a lengthy blogging hiatus due to my pregnancy. It’s my first baby so I freaked out a little bit and spent too much time doing nothing. Oh well, there is no point in digging up the past. The most important thing is that my baby boy is doing great and I am back on my regular posting schedule!
To celebrate this special occasion, I decided to forget about my diet for a day and make a dessert. It’s been 4 months since my last sweet thing on this blog (these no-bake Oreo Chocolate Rum Balls got really popular among my readers) so it was about time! Traditional Italian (tracing its roots to a town of Naples) Struffoli, also known as Italian Honey Balls, was a perfect choice. It looks gorgeous, it’s super delicious, and this dessert is usually served on Christmas, which is approaching. Two birds with one stone!
I have actually had a chance to taste Struffoli once. However, it was the first time I was making it myself. I found a recipe in our local magazine and it turned out splendid! Crunchy on the outside, soft and warm inside, as it has to be. Oops, I still haven’t explained to you what Struffoli are all about! Simply put, it’s deep-fried dough puffs or balls, depending on how you shape them, mixed with honey and sometimes sugar. The dough has that citrusy flavor coming from the added lemon and orange zest and I absolutely love it.
Struffoli are usually topped with colored sprinkles but the recipe from my magazine suggested using poppy seeds, almond slices, and cranberries instead. Who am I to oppose? Speaking seriously, I think my toppings are way more attractive than just colored sprinkles. You can use anything you like or have in a pantry, though!
The presentation of these Italian honey balls is another important topic. You can either just pour them in a bowl without any headache or roll your sleeves up and try assembling your dough puffs into a wreath or cone shape. As you can see from the photos, I did a wreath shape and it went quite well! You have to agree that the presentation, in this case, takes the appearance of this dessert to another level. Use my glass and cake tin method to form a wrath the easy way!
What’s more to say about this gorgeous Italian creation? Struffoli makes a perfect dessert for your holiday table. Formed in a wreath, Italian honey balls bring Christmas spirit into your house. These little guys not only look awesome but also taste like heaven!
For the dough:
- 3 1/3 cups (14 oz. or 400g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3 oz. (85g) sour cream
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- zest from 1 lemon
- zest from 1 orange
- vegetable oil , for frying
For the syrup:
- 1 oz. (30g) water
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 7 oz. (200g) honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- zest from 1 lemon
- dried cranberries (optional)
- poppy seeds (optional)
- almond slices (optional)
- In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Beat in the eggs and add the sour cream and brandy. Add the orange and lemon zest. Mix very well and knead until the dough is smooth. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and let sit in a fridge for a half an hour.
- In a saucepan, add the water and brown sugar and boil until the sugar dissolves and the syrup thickens a little bit. Add the honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix well. Set aside.
Making balls and frying:
- Take the dough out of the fridge and divide into 5-6 parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll each part into a very thin 1/2-inch thick log and cut into small equal pieces. Keep in mind that the dough pieces will double in size when fried.
- Fill half of the pot with oil and heat to 375°F (180°C). Prepare a plate lined with paper towel. Working in batches, add some dough pieces to a metal strainer and lower into the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes, turning them in the oil, until lightly golden. Transfer to a plate with the paper towel. Repeat with all the remaining dough.
- Transfer the dough balls to the saucepan with the prepared syrup and mix well until nicely coated.
Forming a wreath:
- Take a cake tin and put a glass, sprayed with cooking oil, in the middle of it. Arrange the honey balls around the glass to form a wreath. Drizzle the remaining honey over them. Sprinkle with the cranberries, poppy seeds, and almond slices, if using. Let sit for a couple of hours to set. Remove the side of the cake tin and the glass and serve. Enjoy!