Christmas Sweets: The Recipe for Struffoli from Chef Gennaro Russo

They are the signature dessert of the Neapolitan holiday season, with a delicious, fragrant and tempting nature. Struffoli, sticky sweet morsels of delight, coloured with sprinkles and placed like small mountains of temptations pop up in homes around Campania as Christmas approaches.

The Story of the Struffoli

As much as they are associated with the city of Naples, it would seem that they were not invented here, but, according to some, in Greece. In Hellenic cuisine, in fact, there is an ancient recipe very similar to that of struffoli, loukoumades, “wolverines,” and even the name “struffolo” itself is said to derive from “stroggulos,” “round-shaped.” According to others, however, the origin would be Spanish, more specifically Andalusian, and would be sought in piñonate, a cake with the same process as struffoli, but with an elongated shape. The only certainty is their mention in two culinary treatises of the 1600s, the Latini and the Nascia, where they are mentioned and juxtaposed with other similar sweets of Umbrian and Abruzzese tradition.

Chef Gennaro Russo’s Recipe for Struffoli

For anyone who wants to try their hand at making struffoli, here is the variation proposed by Chef Gennaro Russo of Ristorante La Sponda at the Le Sirenuse hotel in Positano, made with flour, butter (instead of the traditional lard), liqueur and lemon and orange scents, fried, covered with honey and served with candied fruit and sprinkles.

Ingredients for 4 people

Flour 00: 200 g
Fine salt: 1 g
Strega liqueur: 45 g
Sugar: 30 g
Eggs: 65 g
Egg yolks: 65 g
Butter: 25 g
Orange zest: 5 g
Lemon zest: 3 g


Knead all of the ingredients except the butter, which should be added at the end. After obtaining a smooth dough, let it rest about two hours in the refrigerator. Next form very fine strands of dough, cut into cylinders about half an inch thick. Cook in hot peanut oil at 175°C, then bring 70 g of honey to 120°C and cook with 10 g of Anise. Add the fried struffoli and serve while still hot, placing them on a platter garnished with sprinkles, Anise, lemon, citron and candied sour cherry confections.

Ristorante La Sponda

Christmas Sweets: The Recipe for Struffoli from Chef Gennaro Russo

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