Struffoli, Christmas honey balls

Struffoli, the official Christmas treat of my childhood.

I come from the south of Italy and it is not officially Christmas until struffoli are on your plate 🙂

This traditional dessert can be made in different ways and I assume, depending on the region, presented also in different forms.

A true Italian delicacy and a classic of the Neapolitan cuisine

Struffoli were first introduced in Naples by the chefs of Ferdinand II of Aragon in XVI Century.

During that time wealthier families enjoyed different types of sweets. At Christmas, in particular, dried fruit and nuts, such as hazelnuts, were coated in honey and became very popular, but at the same time they represented an expensive treat.

As my mother reminds me, struffoli were born as the alternative to these dried fruits.  The recipe, in fact, uses a dough whose shape remind us of hazelnuts and subsequently is coated in honey. It obviously became popular as it’s as simple as delicious ♥

The recipe that follows underwent some alterations, I “deglutenised” it of course, removed dairy and used a healthier sweetener.

The taste is just as good, perfumes of  honey, oranges and lemons.

Memories come back to me ♥ and I bring them with me so I can keep the traditions going in my family.

My daughter loves to hear about me as a child, especially what I was up to around Christmas time. Coming from the south of Italy it meant family above all.

And food is the happy incentive that brings us together.  It’s about love and nurturing.

I especially miss my grandmother to whom I owe my passion for real food and some of my qualities as a mother.

She was a woman way ahead of her time. She used to be a tailor. Quite successful too.


She was a knowledgeable woman and took great care of her family for many years. She was a real cook and knew endless herbal remedies for virtually every condition..

Bear in mind Dr Google wasn’t available back then..

She also had a strong faith that kept her going during hard times.

I remember once, I heard her politely and eloquently rejecting her doctor’s advice. That was fun, the poor man was speechless. She knew what she was doing was right for her family.

It is important for me to keep the flame going, so sharing memories and recipes with my daughter is only natural.

During the years we’ve been making this delicacy a few times

This was back in 2014..


When husbands get involved…!



360 g rice flour

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 cup water

3 eggs

1 heaped tbsp of honey

50 g coconut butter (soft at room temperature)

1 tsp of orange zest

1 tsp of  lemon zest

pinch of salt

For frying

coconut oil

340 g honey


In a large bowl combine the flour, xanthan gum, the eggs, butter, honey, the orange and the lemon zest, the water and the salt

Mix together to form a smooth dough, it won’t be as even and elastic as if you were working with gluten but we don’t care, it just means that instead of working the whole dough, you work on small pieces at the time. Divide the dough in 6 equal sized parts cover them and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Passed this time work the dough a bit more and roll out each piece of dough as best as you can and cut it into 1/2-inch wide strips. The strips might be crumbly so you can make short strips instead. Don’t worry, the texture won’t affect the result.

Cut each strip of dough into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball (think gnocchi size)

Transfer the balls (struffoli) in a large saucepan, fry them in coconut oil over medium heat

Fry in small batches until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful because they burn quickly.


Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain

In a large saucepan, melt the honey, bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried struffoli and stir until completely coated in the honey.

Tradition wants the honey balls arranged in a wreath shape on a platter. To do this place a glass jar, previously lightly coated in oil, in the center of a round platter and arrange the struffoli around the glass let it set for 2 hours, then, remove the glass.


The struffoli can be decorated with candied fruit if preferred, we like them on their own..

Look, I’m not going to share it Daisy..I am never alone when I’m holding a plate!


Finally.. enjoy ♥



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