Does your family have a fun holiday tradition that centers around baking or cooking? My mom’s side is Sicilian and we used to make Pignolata (“Struffoli” as they say it on the mainland) every Christmas, and I still have the fondest memories of rolling the dough into little “snakes” to make Italian honey balls. I’ve handed this tradition down to my kids and they look forward to it every Holiday season! As they become young adults I’ll be handing down this struffoli recipe too! Even though Mama Z isn’t Sicilian, we let her in on the fun and she loves Italian honey balls like the rest of us. Although, she usually stays clear of making Italian honey balls, and focuses on eating them. She leaves the work to us! 😉 Mama Z’s Christmas tradition is a special meal… Petti di Polla Alla Bolognese AKA Chicken Roll-ups. Note, it’s important to carve out a couple hours for this recipe. Making this struffoli recipe is time intensive. It’s a lot of rolling dough, frying, and prepping. There is nothing quick about it. Although, it’s super tasty and very fun to do!
Our Family’s Struffoli Recipe
This is truly a family experience and I encourage you to embrace it. Put on some fun Christmas music, make some hot cocoa for the kids and grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine and enjoy making memories. Don’t forget to take pictures. Your kids WILL ask you about this when they get older because making (and eating!) Italian honey balls is such a fun experience!
- Cooking oil (we like a mix of coconut, grapeseed and olive).
- 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
- 3 pasture-raised organic eggs
- 1 cup raw almonds (finely chopped)
- 1 cup raw organic honey
- ¼ cup raw organic coconut oil
- 1 (70%) organic chocolate bar or 1 bag vegan, stevia-sweetened dairy-free chocolate chips
- 3 droppersful vanilla-flavored liquid stevia
- ½ teaspoon organic groundCeylon cinnamon or organic pumpkin pie spice
- Large pot
- Mixing bowl
- Cutting board
- Metal strainer
- Serving bowls
- In a large pot, heat 3-4 inches of cooking oil over medium-low heat. You can use any or a combination of grapeseed, coconut, or avocado oil. Feel free to add a splash of olive oil, but don't use it as your primary choice.
- Sift the flour and salt and place in a large glass bowl. Beat the eggs, and mix with the flour. At this point, your dough should be sticky. If not, add another egg.
- Knead the dough on a floured board until pliable. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Take small pieces of the dough and roll them into thin tubes. You want your tubes to be thinner than a pencil.
- Chop the dough tubes into ¼-½-inch long pieces.
- Deep fry the struffoli in heated oil until golden brown. Drain well in a metal strainer or place on a paper-towel-covered plate while cooling.
- While the struffoli is cooling, make the honey sauce. Mix the honey, coconut oil, liquid stevia, almonds, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Bring to a simmer over low heat.
- Immediately turn off the heat, and let cool until it thickens.
- Pour in the fried dough and mix until the sauce completely covers the struffoli.
- Immediately, serve the struffoli in individual bowls and top with chocolate. Enjoy!
How To Make Italian Honey Balls
Start by mixing all your ingredients and kneading till your dough can be rolled out into snakes. This is the most fun part of the whole ordeal… Smoosh it, roll it, cut it. The pieces don’t have to be perfect. Just make sure they’re small enough to cook quickly and be a good bite size. Get the kids involved! There is a lot of dough kneading and rolling and cutting to be done and little hands are great at this kind of work. And its so much fun for them! Fry your honey balls in a healthy fat. Olive oil is great, but it doesn’t have a very high heat tolerance so on its own it’s not a very good option. We like a mix of coconut, grapeseed and olive oil. Avocado oil could also be a great option and doesn’t have a strong flavor like olive oil! After your Italian Honey Balls are fried, toss them in honey then top with some shaved chocolate or chopped up chocolate chips. Have you ever made Italian honey balls? They are super yummy and I hope you try them out this Holiday season! And, check out our other Christmas recipes for even more healthy goodies you can make.