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Struffoli 

(Serves 8)
Struffoli is a traditional Neapolitan Christmas dessert made from small puffs of citrus-flavored dough that are crunchy on the outside and soft inside. The fried balls are dipped in honey, dusted with multi-colored candy sprinkles, and usually served piled high in a tree-shaped mound or shaped into a wreath.
Struffoli
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DESSERTS  > ITALIAN CHRISTMAS DESSERTS  >  STRUFFOLI
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BUON NATALE
Ingredients:

2 cups flour plus additional for rolling
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon
Vegetable oil for frying

Honey Glaze:
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice
Sugar sprinkles for decoration

Directions:

To make the dough:
Combine the flour, lemon and orange zest, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to combine the ingredients.  Add the butter; pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal.  Add the eggs, orange juice, vanilla and optional Fiori di Sicilia.  Blend until the mixture forms a ball.  Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.   Shape the dough into a small rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 8-9 equal-size pieces.  On a lightly floured surface, use the palms of your hands to roll each piece into a 1/2-inch thick log.  Then cut each log into 1/2-inch pieces. ( An easy technique is to place all of the logs side-by-side and then use a knife or a dough cutter to cut through all of the pieces at once to form the 1/2-pieces.)  You can leave the shape of the pieces as is or use the palms of your hands to roll each piece into a small ball. 

To fry the dough:
In a large shallow saucepan, pour in about 2-inchs of oil.  Use a deep-frying thermometer to heat the oil to 370 degrees F.  In batches, fry the dough balls until lightly golden brown, just 1-2 minutes.  Transfer the fried dough balls to a paper towel lined plate to drain. 

To add the honey glaze:
In a saucepan, combine the honey, sugar and lemon or orange juice over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Add the fried dough balls and stir until coated in the honey mixture.  Allow the mixture to cool in the saucepan for 2 minutes.

Spray the outside of a glass or small bowl with cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter.  Use a large spoon to arrange the struffoli around the glass to form a wreath.  Wet your hands with a little water if you need to help shape the struffoli into shape.  Alternately, you can mound the struffoli into a tree shape or simply mound them on a serving dish.  Add the sugar sprinkles while the honey is still wet.  Allow the mixture to set for 2 hours before serving. You can also make this one day in advance.  Remove the glass or bowl from the center of the platter and serve. 
Fiori di Sicilia Extract (optional)
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