I love to cook. I love to bake. I am particularly fond of holiday baking. I just love to prepare the family traditions that connect us not just at the table, but with family members who also lovingly prepared the same foods. My children look forward the sweet treats I bake at Christmastime. I spend DAYS baking and often have to double and triple recipes of their favorites in order to have enough and to share with others. In years past, friends have called and requested a plate of assorted cookies to serve to their families. I happily obliged, I know how much time and effort goes into holiday baking. It is truly a labor of love.
I thought it would be fun to host a virtual cookie exchange. I will be sharing some our our family's favorite cookie recipes and I hope you will link up and share yours as well. Grab the photo at the top and link up at the bottom! Please link back to this post.
Today I am sharing a recipe for struffoli. Struffoli, a traditional Neapolitan dessert, is ubiquitous at Christmastime in Italian homes. Struffoli are marble-sized sweet dough pastries, fried and dressed in a honey syrup. They are often decorated with colorful sprinkles or candied fruits.
The history of struffoli can be traced to the Ancient Greeks who are said to have exported it to the Gulf of Naples. The name may come from the Greek word “strongoulos” meaning with round shape or it may be derived from the word “strofinare” meaning to scrub. This might refer to the movement necessary when rolling the dough into long log shapes before cutting it into small pieces to be fried.
Struffoli is native to Southern Italy, though in different regions it is known by different names. For instance in Abruzzo it is called “cicerchiata,” in Calabria “turdiddi,” and in Palermo, “strufoli.” While I am not certain, it may be that my family is from a town in the Province of Palermo called “Polizzi Generosa.” My maiden name is Polizzi!
Many, many years ago, when we were living in our little apartment in Hawthorne, NJ I started to make some struffoli. At the the time Jim and I had a long distance marriage. He had a job in NH and I had a job in NJ. It was very difficult and Christmas prep was a lonely proposition. As I began to heat the oil in the pan, somehow it caught fire. The smoke alarms started wailing and the apartment filled with smoke. I opened the door leading down the stairs and our old and feeble dog went tumbling down. I was in a panic already, but then the phone began to ring. I answered the phone only to hear my my friend Andrea saying, "You never call me! Why don't you call me?" WHAT????? I responded, "Really? I just nearly caught the house on fire, it's filled with smoke, and the dog just went flying down the stairs! I can't do this right now!" Andrea asked, "Well what are you doing?" "Making struffoli," I said, to which Andrea replied, "You know you never make struffoli alone! We're coming over."
Andrea, her husband Giovanni and I made struffoli late into the evening, laughing, and drinking wine. Sadly, Giovanni died nearly three years ago, while only in his 40s, but I cannot make struffoli today without thinking of that night and my dear friends. Here is the caveat, while it can be done, I don't recommend making struffoli alone. Making it with friends or family is the most wonderful experience and the memories will last a lifetime.
For a chance to win my Struffoli Describing game, go the the Frenzied SLPs FaceBook page and post a comment about your favorite holiday food tradition.
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