Photo Credit: Lauren Volo
This popular Italian dessert has been passed down from generation to generation. Feel free to garnish the dish with small candies for some extra sweet decoration.
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
2 teaspoons orange zest (from ½ large orange)
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Canola oil, for frying
1 cup honey
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1½ cups hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook's Note)
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Sugar sprinkles or dragees, for decoration
Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional
For the dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and vanilla. Pulse until the mixture forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until ¼ inch thick. Cut each piece of dough into ½-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip of pastry into ½-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball about the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375°F. (If you don't have a thermometer, a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes at the desired temperature.). In batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the dough balls to a paper towellined plate to drain. (The rested and quartered dough can also be rolled on a floured work surface into ½-inch-thick logs and cut into equal-sized ½-inch pieces. The dough pieces can then be rolled into small balls and fried as above.)
To assemble: In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried dough and hazelnuts and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.
Spray the outside of a small, straight-sided water glass with vegetable oil cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter. Using a large spoon or damp hands, arrange the struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape. Drizzle any remaining honey mixture over the struffoli. Allow to set for 2 hours (can be made 1 day in advance).
Decorate with sprinkles and dust with powdered sugar, if using. Remove the glass from the center of the platter and serve.
Cook's Note: To toast the hazelnuts, preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.