Posted on Wednesday, 21st April 2010 by Grace Massa Langlois
Cicerchiata is one of my favourite Italian desserts, so light and fluffy. It has many names, Struffoli, Pignolata and Chiacchiere just to name a few, depending on the region you hail from.
My family is from Monteferrante, a small town in the Abruzzo region about 50 miles east of Rome by the Adriatic Sea.
There are so many different variations for Italian Honey Balls, but the one I am sharing with you today is a super easy recipe. If you’d like, you can add sprinkles, candied fruit, sliced almonds or anything you fancy to dress them up, you can also arrange them into various shapes.
I like to eat them in the simplest form, piled high in a bowl dripping with honey.
I did venture out just a little, I happened to visit one of our local farms a little while back and I came across chocolate honey. I had never tried it, I decided I would split the batch in half, one half regular honey the other chocolate honey, so glad I did, just a hint of chocolate but they were so delicious. Just a thought, next time I may try them with chocolate honey, crushed hazelnuts and orange zest.
Another very popular Italian treat is Cannoli Siciliani, the Ultimate Italian Pastry and my absolute downfall!
Cicerchiata-Struffoli, Italian Honey Balls
8 to 10 servings
- 6 large eggs
- 375 g (3 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Canola or vegetable oil for deep frying
- 710 ml (3 cups) honey
- 75 g (½ cup) candied fruit, optional
- 50 g (1/3 cup) slivered almonds, optional
- Candy sprinkles, optional
- Vegetable cooking spray (if shaping cicerchiata into a wreath)
- Crack eggs into a small bowl, cover and allow eggs to come to room temperature, 30 minutes.
- Add salt to eggs; lightly beat together with a fork.
- Place flour on a clean work surface or in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.
- Pour egg mixture into centre of well. With the tips of your fingers or with a fork gradually draw the flour into the egg mixture. Continue until all or most of the flour is incorporated.
- Use your hands to gather the dough together. Knead the dough until smooth and no longer sticky, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Shape dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl, kitchen towel or wrap in plastic. Let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Fill a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan with 5-cm (2 inches) of oil. Attach a thermometer and heat oil over medium heat to between 185° C and 190° C (365° Fand 370° F). (If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a 2.5-cm (1-inch) cube of bread into hot oil. If it takes about 1 minute to brown all sides of the cube and the cube floats to the top the oil has reached the appropriate temperature for deep-frying.)
- Prepare 2 baking sheets line one baking sheet with non-stick baking paper (for cut pieces of dough) and line the other baking sheet with 3 to 4 layers of paper towels (to absorb excess oil).
- Knead rested dough for a few minutes.
- Cut dough into 12 equal pieces. Work with one piece of dough at a time, keeping remaining dough covered. Using the palms of your hands roll each piece into a rope 1¼-cm (½-inch) thick. Cut the rope into 6 1/3-mm or 12¾ mm (¼-inch or ½-inch) pieces. Transfer pieces to prepared baking sheet (lined with non-stick baking paper); cover dough pieces with a kitchen towel. (Cicerchiata puff out quite a bit when frying. If I am preparing a wreath I prefer to cut the dough into smaller pieces. You may want to fry a small batch before cutting all the dough to see which size you prefer.)
- Cook dough pieces in small batches (do not overcrowd pan), stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until lightly golden on all sides, 1½ to 3 minutes (depending on size).
- Transfer cicerchiata to baking sheet (lined with paper towels) with a slotted spoon.
- When all dough is fried allow cicerchiata to come to room temperature. Transfer cicerchiata to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan bring honey to a simmer over low heat. Simmer at low heat, stirring occasionally, until honey is melted.
- Gradually pour honey (reserving 59 ml or ¼-cup if shaping into a wreath) over cicerchiata stirring with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
- If using candied fruit, nuts or sprinkles (or all three), sprinkle over top of cicerchiata and stir to well combine. (If shaping into a wreath, reserve a portion of the candied fruit, nuts and sprinkles to decorate wreath.)
- To serve, spoon into a bowl, pile onto a serving dish or shape into a wreath.
To shape into a wreath
- Spray the outside of a round ramekin, custard cup or glass with vegetable spray. Place in the centre of a large platter.
- Using a large spoon, arrange the cicerchiata around the ramekin (cup or glass) to form a wreath shape; allow wreath to set at room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.
- Remove ramekin (cup or glass) from centre of wreath.
- Reheat reserved honey, drizzle over cicerchiata. Decorate with reserved candied fruit, nuts and sprinkles.
- Buon Appetito!
Just to warn you, these are irresistible, I could eat the whole bowl.
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Tags: after school treat, afternoon tea, almonds, chocolate honey, cicerchiata, dessert, desserts, food, food photography, food photos, honey, honey balls, individual dessert, individual desserts, Italian dessert, Italian desserts, Italian pastry, struffoli
Posted in Baking & Pastry, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Recipes