Struffoli (Italian Honey Cake)
This traditional Italian honey cake, or “honey balls,” as it is sometimes known, is served around Christmas time. Sometimes you will see this dessert on St Joseph’s Day tables as well. Usually the balls are piled high in a tree-shaped mound, but you can shape them into a wreath as well.
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup margarine
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups flour, sifted
- 10 large eggs
- 2 cups honey (16 ounces)
- Optional decorations such as: sprinkles, silver balls, candied fruits, toasted pine nuts or anything else you like!
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
Place the water, margarine and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let stand as the margarine melts in the hot water. Stir in the flour and mix well. Return the saucepan to medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to form a ball and pull away from the sides of the pan. This should take about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let it cool in the pot.
Add the eggs to the mixture, one at a time, and beat using an electric mixture or a wooden spoon – the beating has to be vigorous to fully incorporate the eggs. When all the eggs are incorporated, put the mixture into a pastry bag and pipe tiny balls onto the pastry sheets; the balls should be the size of marbles, or just a little bigger. If you do not have a pastry bag, you can put the dough in a sealable plastic bag and cut out one corner’s tip and pipe them out that way (just make sure that your dough is cool!).
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the balls from the oven and let cool on wire racks.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the honey until it boils. Let it boil for 5 minutes, but don’t leave the stove and be careful that it does not boil over. If it starts to boil up, lower the heat. Dip the puffs in the honey. You can throw 10-12 balls in at once. Make sure they are evenly coated in honey, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and put them onto a plate.
Once all of the balls have been dipped and removed, you can wet your hands and start working on your artistic side. Take the balls and form them into a mound or a wreath on another clean plate. Then finish off the masterpiece with some decorative touches like sprinkles or candied fruit.