Growing up only half-Italian, I missed out on some traditions. However, one thing I never missed out on was the pastries. Oddly enough, I didn't know the Italian names for them until I went to Italy many moons ago. Now, being married to Mr. Sicilian Artichoke, I actually learned more about them and started making them myself.
One of my favorites has been "Honey Balls" or "Struffoli." Every Christmas and Easter, my mom and I would see piles of little round nuggets of fried dough sold in pretty wrapped trays. I always wanted to get them. However, we'd never would. Mom was more into getting cannolis and a pound of Italian assorted cookies.
When I met Artie, I finally got to try Struffoli at Christmas time years back and fell in love! The sweetness of the honey went well with the light citrus flavor in the dough. Having a bit of a crunch from the dough and candy sprinkles made for a lovely texture.
Celebrating out first vegan Christmas, I had to learn to make my own version of this delicious treat. After trying out a few different recipes, I pulled together some ideas, hit up the liquor stash (not too hard) and went to town. After having Artie play guinea pig and helping me with the deep fryer, he gave his seal of approval.
Now, I feel like a full Italian...well almost!
The Food Duo's Vegan Struffoli
Source: Artie's Sicilian Traditions
Serves qs many who can devour a tray
- 2-1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 4 Tbsp. egg replacer
- 3/4 c. water
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. white vinegar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp. brandy or cognac
- Zest of one orange
- Juice of one orange, divided
- Oil or shortening for frying
- 1 c. vegan honey or agave nectar
- Vegan sprinkles or powdered sugar for decoration
- Set stand mixer with dough hook. Add flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to bowl and mix on low.
- In a small bowl, mix egg replacer into water untit well blended. Pour mixture into dry ingredients
- One at a time, add oil, vinegar, vanilla extract, brandy, orange zest and 1/2 of orange juice into dough mixture. Increase speed to medium to allow all ingredients to combine and dough to form. Dough may be slightly sticky.
- When dough is ready, remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Flour hands and knead dough for a minute or 2. Begin pinching off pieces of the dough and rolling into balls about 1/2-in thick
- Heat oil or shortening in fryer or saucepan for deep frying. When hot, add balls and fry until golden brown.
Note: Depending on your fryer, the first batch may take while to cook while subsequent ones will cook quickly. Strongly advise to use the first batch as a test with about 5 pieces of dough
- When done, drain fried dough on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Then place on tray or plate.
- In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 c. orange juice with 1 c. honey/agave nectar. Stir until honey is loose and is mixed well with orange juice. Pour over fried dough and give a quick toss to evenly coat.
- Top with sprinkles or powdered sugar.