Friday, December 19, 2014

"Struffoli" & “Italian White Wedding Cookies” For Your Holiday Table

             "Winter is the time for comfort - it is the time for home." - Edith Sitwell

Advent is almost over and we have less than a week before Christmas Day. Are you all ready with your gifts, menu, and your desserts? Don’t panic, I still have lots to do as well, so you are not alone. One of my favorite things about this time of year is holiday baking and making wonderful homemade gifts. The aromas of the house surrounding each and every room. The sweet smell of cinnamon, raisins, nuts, brown sugar, and gingerbread. The oven in the kitchen going non-stop, plus seeing the flour, sugar, and the cookie cutters bring back so many memories of my family baking together for Christmas.

I love and enjoy cooking but baking is my favorite. I guess in my Italian family, I must have inherited the “baking gene.” I have learned so much from watching my mother and grandmothers when I was growing up. We had this wooden board, which was my great-grandmother’s. When the board was placed on the table, I felt like I was transported back in time, and I could see my great-grandmother Sofia rolling out the dough on her board. I have since inherited “the board” which I use to create my own traditions. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, she died when I was too little to remember, but I know that my sweet great-grandmother is right next to me and watching.
Great -Grandmother Sofia

"Struffoli," is one of the most popular Italian sweets found on a dessert table for Christmas Eve. I remember the towers of Struffoli in my Mother’s kitchen! I can just see my mom, my grandmother Julia, and my aunt Sophie making these sweet honey balls in the kitchen in our house in Flushing, NY. I am so grateful that I was there to learn and help make these fried goodies. These are reminiscent of mini éclair puffs drenched in honey! I hope that you try this recipe and make your own memories of this very sweet and traditional dessert.


2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (plus a little extra to work with)
3 Eggs
1/4 tsp of salt
2 cups of vegetable oil
2 cups of honey
1/2 cup of sugar

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl add the eggs and salt. Mix well then put on floured board and knead until smooth. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough into 1/2 inch strips, and then cut the strips into tiny pieces 1/2 inch long. Shape these tiny pieces into balls by rolling them in your hand. Heat oil to 350°F. Drop the balls into the oil carefully a few at a time. Cook until lightly golden, turning them constantly with a wooden spoon, or a spider wand. Remove balls and drain them on a paper towel or use a clean brown paper bag.

Combine the honey and sugar in a saucepan and boil the mixture over low heat about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Now, add fried balls, 1 cup at a time, and coat in the honey syrup, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove the balls with a spider or slotted spoon and place on a flat plate to cool. Now you can shape you coated Struffoli into a tree or piled up high like a mountain. (A trick if you want to mold the coated honey balls into a wreath or tree shape, wet your hand slightly and that will help you mold the Struffoli easier. Your hands will not stick to the honey.) Then add confetti or sprinkles. They keep up to 2 weeks, if they last that long…


I have a second cookie to share today which is one that everyone loves to eat. This little, round, sweet, cookie is called by many different names, but in my family we call them “Italian White Wedding Cookies.” These are extremely simple and don’t take long to create. I hope that you enjoy these cookies with your family!

“Italian White Wedding Cookies”

1 cup of unsalted COLD butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
2 cups of all purpose unbleached flour; plus more for dusting hands
1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts
Powdered sugar to coat balls 

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until it is smooth. Beat in the vanilla. At low speed gradually add the flour. Mix in the nuts with a spatula. With floured hands, take about 1 tablespoon of dough and shape into a ball. Continue to dust hands with flour as you make more cookies. Place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 20-30 minutes. When cool enough to handle but still warm, roll in confectioners sugar. Cool on wire racks.  Yield: depending on the size of the balls you make. This recipe makes about 2 dozen.  Enjoy!   

Till Next Time………………………………............

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. I know the smell of Christmas is unique: those spices can fill your house and your soul very quickly and even uplift your mood. Can you believe I have never tried struffoli? They look delicious. And those white wedding cookies with vanilla make my mouth water; they look Christmassy too. Are you having your relatives at your house for Christmas? I will be cooking Turkey this year (like every year) and lasagne the day after. Have a lovely weekend my lovely friend. xxx

    1. Hi Alida,
      Thanks for your lovely comment. You are right I feel so much better and in the mood when I smell the scents of what I call "Christmas." Wow It is hard to believe that you never had Struffoli! You have to try this recipe sometime, Alida. It really is not hard and your children can help you. Besides I think they will love them. To me my brothers when we were young and my mom would make these, would sit with a dish of them and pull one off at a time. It was like eating popcorn, The White Wedding Cookies are a true classic for the holidays. My niece emailed me last week and asked me to make them for her this Christmas.We usually go to my parents for Christmas and I help her cook and make all the desserts. This year we had to change a little, and create a new tradition, my mom has not been well so my sister-in-law offered to have Christmas at her house. We always celebrate Christmas Eve more than the day. With the 7 fishes and all the other traditions. Then we all go to Midnight Mass as my dad is in the choir for over 20 years, so that is our plan this year. Sounds like your Turkey will be wonderful and the Lasagne on Christmas Day. So you are doing an English Christmas Eve and an Italian Christmas Day. I wish you and your family the very best for Christmas and in the New Year. Have a wonderful weekend dear friend. Thanks again for your visit.
      Dottie :)

    2. Thank you Dottie. How lovely to go to Midnight mass. That is the real meaning of Christmas and it makes it really special!!
      Have a lovely time with your family!!
      Lots of love
      Alida xxx

    3. Thank you Alida, You are correct, Mass is what it is all about! Baby Jesus Birthday! Plus a time to be together to share our faith as well as tradition. You are very sweet dear friend, enjoy with your family as well..Merry Christmas! :) <3

  2. Good evening Dottie ,
    I enjoy visiting your posts , this one is yummy delicious . I love Struffoli , I misplaced mine a while back and was so glad to see you posted yours ...'THANKS' ... I don't think there is an Italian home you visit over the holidays that have Italian Wedding cookies as a treat .
    Just think each year we are making memories and be sure to take lots of pictures .
    Your Dad singing in the choir for 20 years is a tradition itself . I am doing the Italian Christmas dinner with lot of other cultures thrown in ... It's fun to learn about other cultures and they also have great food .
    I am so glad you are feeling better and don't overdo it but do enjoy your family .
    Thanks for sharing and thanks for the Struffoli .
    Have a wonderful weekend and stay warm and safe ...
    ~~Nee~~ ;-D

    1. Good evening Nee, You are so sweet, thanks for visiting. So thrilled that you enjoy my posts and I posted the Struffoli recipe. So now you have it dear friend. You are correct, these Struffoli are a true classic and they are in many Italian homes for sure. Yes, I have my camera and lots of extra batteries. Yes, you know the deal with my dad he is singing at Midnight Mass. Before the Mass starts they all sing Christmas Carols while everyone is getting seated. It is such a beautiful ceremony and Mass. After all it is the reason for the season. Your Christmas dinner sounds wonderful. Many cultures, I love that idea. You have to let us know how things came out. I am sure it will be lovely. Yes, I do feel better, but I promise I will not overdue as I do not want to get in a mess again. Thank you for your thinking of me. You are a good friend Nee! I am so grateful that we met through Food blogging. You also have a wonderful weekend and yes, I will stay warm and safe...Dottie :).

  3. Dear Dottie, It simply wasn't Christmas without my mother making bunches of these delicious treats.
    xoxo Catherine

    1. Dear Catherine, I agree with you it wouldn't be Christmas if the Struffoli was not made. Love them so crisp, then smothered with honey and sprinkled with candy confetti! A food frenzy for sure, but a true classic. Thanks for stopping by...Enjoy Dottie :) <3 x