There are so many family recipes that I love making around the holiday season, but it truly wouldn’t be Christmas without pignolata. A delicious Sicilian confection of fried pastry and toasted hazelnuts, rolled in honey and topped with sprinkles – they are my favorite yuletide indulgence and best enjoyed homemade! There are different variations of the dish found throughout Italy – in Naples they’re called struffoli – this is how I make mine:
- 3 eggs, 3 egg yolks
- 1 jigger Grand Marnier
- 2 cups white flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1.5 cups of toasted hazelnuts
- Canola oil
- 1 lb. 8 oz. honey
- round multi-color sprinkles
- In a mixer with a dough hook, combine first 4 ingredients and mix until fully combined.
- Cut off a small section of the dough and cover the remainder with a damp kitchen towel.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece until 1/4-inch thick. Cut each strip of pastry into 1/4-inch pieces – about the size of the top of an eraser. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
- In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or fryer, pour enough oil to fill about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until the oil temp reaches 375 degrees F.
- In batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined baking sheets to drain.
- In a large saucepan, warm the honey over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat. In batches, add the fried dough and hazelnuts and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, arrange the struffoli and hazelnuts on a platter, decorating each layer with sprinkles. Drizzle any remaining honey over the pignoltta (can be made 3 days in advance).
I hope you all have a very merry and wonderful Christmas! xo