GF TRADITIONAL NEAPOLITAN HONEY BALLS - STRUFFOLI NAPOLETANI TRADIZIONALI SENZA GLUTINE

 

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    By popular demand, I am honored to share my gluten free version of the traditional Neapolitan recipe for Struffoli (pronounced str-oof-foh-lee - without any "sh" sound between the "st" and the "r"). Struffoli are a Holiday staple in the Southern part of Italy, and the same easy dough can be used to make other regional celebrative sweets that are decorated and topped in all different ways. In English these Italian delights are called "honey balls", and in some countries other than Italy, they do indeed take on the shape of (rather big) balls, which urges me to rectify the misconception by which in America people think that they need to be large to be good. In fact, the craftsmanship of making Struffoli lays in ensuring that they remain the size of a small chickpea even after being fried by cutting every single piece minute enough to render a delicate ensemble of tiny delicious sweet beads.

    Thanks to my lovely Neapolitan mom - to whom this Blog is dedicated - I have been able to enjoy these delicacies for many years, or at least until I had to start following the gluten-free lifestyle due to Celiac Disease. Though I was only allowed to help make them when I was older,  I have learnt some infallible tricks that still work when making the GF version, and that I am happy to share with you to guarantee that they will taste just like the ones you would eat in Naples. 
If you would like to know more about struffoli and other wonderful Neapolitan traditions, make sure to visit this link.

    ... And now, as we say, with no further ado, let's gather all of our ingredients and make the best Struffoli you will ever savor. (As always, make sure to look for my tips in green and to check back to let me know how yours turned out!

🎄⛄ Buone Feste! (Happy Holidays!) 🎄⛄

GF TRADITIONAL NEAPOLITAN HONEY BALLS 
(STRUFFOLI NAPOLETANI TRADIZIONALI)

(Makes enough to share with 10 guests)
Ingredients:
For the Struffoli dough
  • 2 cups of your favorite all-purpose GF flour (Plus more as needed if the dough is too runny)
  • 1.5 oz (or 40 gr.) of sugar (in the raw or white work well)
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg-white
  • 5 tbs (or 60 gr.) of butter
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tbs of grated orange zest
  • 2 tbs of limoncello or any celiac-safe liqueur (this will remove the eggy smell and taste from the dough)
For frying & decorating
  • 3 to 3.5 cups of sunflower oil (in a 6 inch-wide x 3 inch-deep stainless steel pot)
  • 10 oz (or 300gr.) of honey 
  • 2 tbs of candied fruit (or more orange zest for sprinkling)
Let's get mixing...
  • In a stand-alone mixer (or large mixing bowl) combine the eggs, sugar, orange zest, spices, flour, salt, and liqueur
  • Mix on medium for two minutes or until the dough forms a ball or detaches from the sides of the bowl. (Add any necessary flour if the dough is too runny)
  • Dust a large wooden-board with some GF flour and finish kneading the dough on it 
  • Shape the dough into a thick square, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  • After the dough has rested in the refrigerator, cut a 2x2 inch piece out of it and wrap the rest again to prevent the dough from getting dry
Roll, cut, and repeat...
  • Dust the same board with a bit more flour, roll the piece you pulled from the dough into a ball, and then roll it out in a long and thin strip (1/4 inch in diameter - see picture above) - This is where the Neapolitan craftsmanship comes into play ;) It is very important at this point not to make the diameter of the strip too large, as the little balls will tend to expand during frying and may result in the typical Americanized larger version
  • Pour the frying oil in the pot, and start heating it on low
  • In a cookie sheet or onto a flat surface, place a sheet of parchment paper with a light dusting of flour 
  • Dip the cutting edge of a butter knife or metal cutter into the flour on the board, and cut small (1/2 inch) pieces
  • With your fingers shape the pieces to smooth the edges, but do not try to roll them into an actual ball, or it may create an indentation in the middle of the finished product
  • Place the little balls on the parchment paper, and keep repeating the process

Let the frying begin: 
  • Useful tips: As you cut away, it is always a good idea to have someone else take care of the frying batches...) - To test the readiness of the frying oil, put in a small piece of dough, and if the oil bubbles around it lifting it up to float, you are ready to go!
  • Place a handful of tiny balls into the pot and fry for 1-2 minutes or until they are golden brown, paying attention not to burn them. (Stir with a  flat stainless steel perforated ladle to roll them over in the oil. - You will use the same ladle to scoop them out)
  • After frying, place the struffoli on a paper towel to absorb the oil, and keep repeating the process until you have fried all of the dough
  • Let the Struffoli rest until totally cooled, and in a frying pan reheat the honey on very low heat (By using a less deep vessel, the flour and oil will tend to react less with the honey  and thus not produce as many bubbles)
  • Gently stir the struffoli into the pan for a minute or so by making sure that every single one is coated with the honey, and start placing the honey balls in a serving dish as you please. You can make a wreath-like shape or pile them all up in the shape of Mount Vesuvio.
  • Sprinkle some candied fruit on them, colorful sugar sprinkles or the left-over orange zest. 
  • Do not cover them just yet! When the honey has firmed up, you can cover the finished product with plastic wrap or parchment paper. 
  • Store the Struffoli in a cool place and enjoy!


BUON APPETITO!
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