Award-winning art director Frank Papandrea is sharing one of his favorite Neapolitan treats—struffoli. Here’s his recipe for the sweet dough also known as honey balls.
Frank’s Honey Balls
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon sweet dessert wine (Vin Santo or Moscato) or orange juice
1/2 cup sweet dessert wine or orange juice
4 cups canola oil
2 cups honey
In large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until blended; make a well in center of mixture. In a 2-cup measure, whisk eggs, oil, zest and 1 tablespoon of dessert wine until well blended; pour into center of well.
With hands or large wooden spoon, gradually work flour into egg mixture until a soft, pliable dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; with floured hands, knead dough 3 minutes or until smooth. Wrap in plastic; let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Pull off small walnut-size clumps of dough; with lightly floured hands, roll between your palms into a thin rope, slightly less than 1/2-inch thick. Repeat with remaining dough (keep ropes loosely covered with plastic wrap). Cut ropes into little nuggets, about 1/4- to 1/2-inch wide.
Line large baking sheet with a paper towel. Heat canola oil in a 5-quart pot or electric deep fryer to 360 degrees. Place about 30 dough balls onto a large skimmer or spider; lower into the oil. Fry 2 minutes, stirring as the dough balls fry, until puffed and golden. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
Place honey and 1/2 cup wine in a large 6-quart pot or Dutch oven and bring to a boil (the mixture will bubble high in the pot). Boil 3 minutes; remove pot from heat. Add balls all at once to honey mixture; gently toss with a slotted spoon for several minutes until well coated. Let honey balls cool to room temperature, stirring several times.
Spoon the struffoli with honey onto a large serving platter or several smaller plates. With hands lightly oiled to prevent sticking, arrange balls in a pyramid shape. Sprinkle with nonpareils and candied orange peel.