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Struffoli: traditional honey balls for Christmas

When exploring Naples culinary traditions, we could spend days tasting and savouring local specialties. Like its inhabitants, local recipes convey a strong personality and they are surprisingly good.

Struffoli belongs to Naples Christmas food: they are small fried honey balls covered with sugar and diavulilli, little decorative nonpareils. This appetizing dessert is among the most typical dishes in Naples area: like many other sweet treats such as sfogliatella, pastiera, babà, they are easy to find in bars and local shops. This is why struffoli should definitely be included in your bucket list if you are planning a Christmas holiday in Italy or Naples area.

Despite being at the top of Neapolitan Christmas food traditions, they may not be from there. What is the history behind this delicious Christmas dessert? Keep on reading below to know more about this unmissable dessert of Naples area. 

History of Struffoli

Despite being a super characteristic product in Naples, Struffoli may be originally from Greece, where it is possible to taste a very similar dessert called loukoumades which means delicious temptation.

Neapolitan people however, were the ones who improved the recipe and made it so famous and loved. Interestingly they named them after a greek word stroggulos, that refers to the circular shape of one honey ball.

Others instead believe that struffoli come from Southern Spain, as there is a resemblance between them and the andalusian dessert called pinonate, which actually differs only in shape. This option is more likely to be true, due to the origins of the Kingdom of Naples, which was partially ruled by the spanish crown.

According to the tradition, the first Struffoli date back to the XVII Century, when they were prepared for Christmas lunch in Naples. However, this is not only a custom of Naples area: today struffoli are so loved that many other regions created their variation of them. In the countryside around Rome it is possible to taste the local counterpart which is called cicerchiata and in Southern Italy, in Puglia, they cook a similar dessert named sannacchiudere.

How can I cook Struffoli?

Preparing the typical struffoli is quite easy. To make them tasting good, keep in mind that they should be small balls, about 1 cm in diameter.

To prepare the balls, mix together flour with eggs, sugar, butter and grated lemon.

Divide the dough in small pieces, giving them a circular shape with your hands and fry them.

Once the balls are cooked, move them on a plate covered with a paper towel, to remove the exceeding oil.

Add the honey to a pan and cook it at medium heat.

Pour the honey slowly over the still-warm balls and cover with nonpareils.


What to eat in Naples

If you are a foodie, Naples is the perfect destination for you. When in Naples, you will have a great variety of exquisite specialties to choose. To make sure not to miss the highlights of local cuisine, it is recommended to combine a visit to the most beautiful sites with food tastings, following a customized itinerary in Naples food tours.

23rd Dec 2020