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Updated on December 3, 2015

Struffoli ~ Italian Honey Balls

Pignolata show up all over Sicily under different names pagnuccata, pignoccatta, pignolata - from the word pigna, which means pinecone, the ancient fertility symbol that they resemble. In the eastern part of the island, pignolata are covered on one side by vanilla icing, on the other with chocolate. In the Aeolian Islands, off her north coast, they are called giggi and are glazed with a syrup of vino cotto instead of honey. In the United States they are frequently called struffoli and they appear in pastry shops during Christmas time.

The above is a excerpt from the book Sweet Sicily by Victoria Granof; I have another lens with my family recipe for Italian honey balls; go here for my family recipe, I made a mistake with the spelling and published that lens 1st; thus the different lenses. Oops, I spelled it phonetically (my bad).

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 2 hours
Ready in: 3 hours
Yields: 10 Servings


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
  • plus extra if needed
  • vegetable oil for frying


  1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a wooden spoon to blend, then beat in the sugar, salt, and oil. Sift in the flour and mix to form a soft, but not sticky, dough; add a bit more flour if the dough is sticky. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or so, until smooth. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll, one at a time, into ropes about a 1/2 inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut each rope into 1/2 inch pieces, and transfer the pieces to a lightly floured baking sheet,separiting them so they don't stick to one another. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let them rest while you heat the oil.
  3. In a large deep heavy saucepan, heat 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees on a deep fr-fry or candy thermometer. Fry a handful of the pieces of dough at a time in the hot oil, stirring with a wooden spoon so they brown evenly, until they are a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
5 stars from 2 ratings of Struffoli Recipe

Honey Syrup

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups orange blossom honey
  • Colored candy sprinkles (diavolicchi)


  1. In a large pot or deep frying pan, bring the water, sugar, and orange zest to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the honey. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the little balls stirring to coat them evenly with syrup. (Please use caution when working with this syrup - it is hot, hot, hot.) Continue to cook and stir for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the balls have absorbed some of the syrup and look glazed; do not allow the syrup to get too dark. There may be some leftover syrup. Turn the balls of dough out onto a heat-proof platter and, using a metal spoon dipped in water, coax them into a pile that resembles a pinecone. Sprinkle immediately with candy sprinkles.


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