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!
- 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground pink Himalayan salt
- 1 cup almonds (finely chopped)
- 1 cup raw honey
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1 chocolate bar or 1 bag vegan, stevia-sweetened-free chocolate chips
- 3 eye droppers full of liquid vanilla creme stevia
- ½ teaspoon organic cinnamon powder or pumpkin pie spice
- Cooking oil (we like a mix of coconut, grapeseed and olive).
- Get a 8 quart pot and heat about 3-4 inches of cooking oil on medium-low heat. On our stove, we used the #3 heat setting out of 10.
- While the oil is heating, sift flour and place in large glass bowl.
- Beat 3 eggs and mix with flour. You want the dough to be sticky so you may need to add one more egg, depending on the flour you use. Coconut and almond flours usually require more liquid.
- Knead dough on floured board and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Take small pieces of dough and roll into thin tubes thinner than a pencil. Like kids making snakes with play-doh.
- Chop the dough tubes into tiny pieces about ¼-1/2 inch long.
- Deep fry in oil until lightly golden brown and drain well in metal strainer or paper towel while cooling off.
- In the same 8 quart pot, mix together honey, coconut oil, liquid stevia, almonds and cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice on low heat until it simmers.
- Turn off heat and let cool until it thickens a bit.
- Not waiting too long, pour in the fried dough pieces and mix together so that the syrup is evenly distributed.
- Immediately, put your Italian honey balls into small serving bowls and top with shredded chocolate or chocolate chips.
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. Coconut 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.