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Nov 28, 2011 11:46 PM

? name of Italian fried honey cookies

My grandmother used to make these and sometimes dipped them in powdered sugar. I cannot remember if they were fried but I think they were. They were really sticky and messy but good. Can anyone tell me the name of these cookies. I think she made them around the holidays, especially Christmas.

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  1. Are you thinking of struffoli (Sicilians call them pignolata)? They are balls of dough that are deep fried and then tossed in a honey mixture and usually piled up on a plate. You pick them off one by one to eat. However, powdered sugar doesn't ring a bell, since these are always in honey.

    29 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      I did look at Struffoli online yesterday and they were close but I don't exactly remember them in ball-shape. They were piled up in an old roasting pan. I remember them being very sticky. Thank you for the suggestion. As I indicated below, may be Grandma had her own version of these cookie things.

      1. re: momiecat

        Good luck, but I'm putting my money on struffoli. There are many variations on the recipe, but mine is incredibly simple -- four, eggs and a pinch of salt. Essentially it is pasta dough that is fried, and they can be made any shape you like. My version has a mixture of honey, sugar and cinnamon that is boiled together until the sugar is dissolved. Then the cooked struffoli are put in the pot, and stirred until each is covered with the honey mixture, and then it is turned out onto a plate -- or a roasting pan, or however you want to serve them.

        1. re: roxlet

          You are right. I checked with my mom and she said it is called Struffoli (or Pignolata) alla Calabrese – Calabrian Style Honey Clusters. My mom said Grandma used to pile them all up in the roasting pans to look like a Christmas tree. I still don't think they were all ball-shaped but may be some of them were. I think Grandma made her own version. Mom said they were really sticky. Thanks all.

          1. re: momiecat

            They start out as ball shaped, but they sort of 'pop' as they are frying. They are super easy to make, and particularly fun to make with children who love rolling the dough into ropes before cutting into little pillows.

      2. re: roxlet

        Does struffoli have to be made in balls? Someone made what looked like crostoli but everyone called them struffoli. He was Sicilian (Brooklyn).

        1. re: chowser

          Strictly speaking, they're not really balls. When you make ropes and then cut the pieces, they look more like pillows than balls, and when you fry them, they kind of 'pop' in the hot oil, so they are more an odd shape than a ball per se. I've never seen them in other shapes, however. My feeling is that this shape cooks easily and throughly in the hot oil; I would be concerned if the shape were larger of significantly different. But maybe someone does it that way, and they're fine...

          1. re: roxlet

            I'm going to bring it up at the next Italian class gathering. The struffoli brought were more like the pictures of the crostoli, flattened ribbons of fried dough. They were definitely flat, not pillowy. I'm wondering if he made a Brooklyn version that amalgamated different recipes.

            1. re: chowser

              otherwise known as...depending on the region of Italy.

              bugie (Genova, Torino, Asti, Imperia)
              cenci o crogetti (Toscana)
              chiacchiere (Basilicata, Sicilia, Campania, Lazio, Umbria, Puglia, Calabria, a Milano, Sassari e Parma)
              cioffe (Sulmona, centro Abruzzo)
              cróstoli o cróstołi (Ferrara, Rovigo, Vicenza, Treviso, Trentino, Friuli, Venezia Giulia)
              crostoli o grustal (Ferrara)
              cunchiell' o qunchiell (Molise)
              fiocchetti (Montefeltro e Rimini)
              frappe (Roma e Ancona)
              gałàni o sosole (Venezia, Verona, Padova)
              gale o gali (Vercelli e Bassa Vercellese)
              guanti (Caserta)
              gròstołi o grostoli (Trento)
              intrigoni (Reggio Emilia)
              lattughe o latǖghe (Mantova)
              maraviglias (Sardegna)
              rosoni o sfrappole (Modena, Bologna, Romagna)
              sfrappe (Marche)
              sprelle (Piacenza)
              risòle (Cuneo e sud del Piemonte)

                1. re: roxlet

                  no, I didn't make the ones in the pic (gorgeous aren't they?).

                  It was just a random pic that showed up in an image search (haven't taken any pictures of mine), although I do make them yearly in the tradition of Carnevale (sabato grasso, "fat saturday")

                  I'll have to take some pics of mine next time I make them (not too far away!)

                2. re: Novelli

                  But is it ever called struffoli? I thought it was struffoli from what people in the class said but it seems like those are one thing, but struffoli is different.

                  1. re: chowser

                    No, chowser, those are definitely not struffoli! What class, btw? Was there a class that taught homey old-fashioned Italian desserts?

                    1. re: roxlet

                      No, just an Italian class that likes to eat. I'll have to bring it up and see what they say!

                  2. re: Novelli

                    If those are the light, crispy treats I'm thinking of, my Neapolitan aunts would call them Guandi indeed....or Wandi, the slang version. Never honey on them, though...they would've fallen apart. Great memory!

                    1. re: Novelli

                      Thanks for all of that. A couple of years ago I joined my dad and his cousins to make Petuas. Apparently it was a cookie that someone's mother-in-law taught her. No one can remember what region she was from but it was somewhere in the north of Italy. As the others, this recipe is simple: flour, white wine, oil and anisette (no eggs). Mix dough adding a little extra wine if it's too dry. Let it rest and then run through a pasta maker until it's thin (like a 5 on the dial). Cut into strips and pinch to make bow ties or rosettes. Fry in vegetable oil until light brown, drain on paper towels. When it's all done, heat up 2 parts honey 1 part water and dip cookies in then drain. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon.

                      1. re: stephfour

                        This picture looks exactly like the cookie I am looking for. My great aunts made them. I never knew the name, but my mom and grandmother have the recipe

                        1. re: mels7777

                          Mels7777 - please post the recipe if you have it.

                          1. re: momiecat

                            This might be the closest I have found to what my grandma made. They were really thin pinwheels. I may try this recipe and see if it is like I remember

                            1. re: ahecei

                              They look delicious and, again, to me are close to what Grandma made but my memory has faded so much, I cannot be sure if they are what she used to make. Thank you for posting.

                              1. re: ahecei

                                Yes, yes, yes!!! This is what Grandma used to make every Christmas Eve! Thank you ever so much for posting. She was from a small town in central Italy called San Fele.

                          2. re: stephfour

                            Very very close to what I remember although my Grandma's family was from Cosenza, Calabria in Southern Italia. Thanks for posting the photo!

                            1. re: momiecat

                              My family is from the same region. The cookies my grandmother made are called "cristoli". She made two types; powdered sugar & honey coated.

                            2. re: stephfour

                              This looks exactly like what my great grandmother used to make with the exception of being sprinkled with colored candy balls. Thanks so much for the picture and recipe. I am so excited to try this!

                              1. re: rainbowskies

                                My sister and i were trying to remember what these were called and how to make them. I came here and this site helped but i didnt remember these names. I assumed zeppole must be the name but it didnt sound sis looked through my mom's recipes last night and prayed to mom to help us...we couldnt find it before...and just then my sister found it and it was named zeppole! This morning i kept trying to recall how mom and gram pronounced it and it finally hit me...sounds like..uh-SAY-pluh...and i was happy to solve that many years old mystery! I was ready to use a recipe from here but none of them seemed the same and now i know why. My family used farina (cream of wheat) and flour. The farina gave it a grainy crunchy texture that i expect using just flour might not. Also, my family made them in the shape of a figure eight but the ends might not have been in the shape of a jesus fish symbol. I remember my mom telling me that was why they shaped them like that and i recall having them at easter and maybe new years eve and perhaps st. Josephs day. Here's the recipe....2 cups farina, 2 cups flour, 9cups water, 1 tsp. Of salt. Boil water and salt, add farina and cook until done i guess. Lower heat and slowly add flour stirring the whole time. Shape into ropes the size of a finger...or whatever shape you want i suppose...and fry in olive oil. Recipe also says to put a lttle oil on top of water before cooking farina. I suppose so it doesnt stick as much when trying to shape. After frying, drain on paper towels. Then mom's recipe just says sugar and honey. I think she boiled the honey with a little water then dipped the pieces and either added sugar before or after the honey. Not clear on it but seem to recall her heating it. Her and grams recipes always werent so clear. They just expected us to know the details because they showed us from one generation to the next.

                                1. re: debbieholmes

                                  Thank you for sharing your wonderful story and recipe. This has turned out to be quite a discussion. I still wish my grandma was here so I could ask her (Calabrian) what she actually called these wonderful treats.

                                  1. re: momiecat

                                    Did you ever find the cookies you were looking for last year? I just came across this string and it just so happens I made what might be the cookies today. Could they be Turdella? Not 100% sure about the spelling. My grandmother was from a village outside of Cosenza, Calaberia. The Calabraze that settled in this area would get together and make 100s of them around this time of year. They are deep fried and after cooled, coated in honey. Grandma would store them in a covered tin. Cookies were real sticky but delicious. The recipe, as best we can figure - they never wrote down recipes unfortunately - is as follows.
                                    2 c olive oil
                                    1 c sweet white wine (Moscata)
                                    1 c water
                                    1/4 c sugar
                                    2 eggs
                                    1 tsp salt
                                    1 tsp vanilla
                                    3+lbs flour

                                    heat first 4 ingredients until dissolved then cool until warm to touch.

                                    Add salt to flour. Dump flour onto board and make a well in the middle. Add beaten eggs with vanilla. Start to mix. Make a another well and add 1/2 of the headed mixture, continue to kneed. If you need more flower add. Add rest of liquid and kneed until completely mixed. Shouldn't be dry or too sticky to touch. Turn into round disk, cover with towel and let rest for 15 minutes. While hot oil heats - cook around 350. Slice off part of dough, roll into long rope then cut pieces about an 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch. Roll cut piece over the back of fork, basket or other item that will create ridges on dough. While rolling piece, make indention - similar to gnocchi. Deep fry until light brown, cool. The center may appear to be slightly dough but that is the way they are supposed to be. Tricky cuz you don't want them raw but also not overcook. The soft center is where the olive oil flavor is. Now the tricky part - putting honey on the cookies. Try 3/4 honey mixture to 1/4 grape jelly. Heat both in pan, submerge cookie until coated, place on rack to dry.

                                    I hope that is the recipe you were looking for. From what I'e been told, it is definitely a regional cookie.

                                  2. re: debbieholmes

                                    Well, this is a new one on me!

                                    My struffoli is covered in a mixture of sugar and honey. Basically, you heat the honey with the sugar until the sugar melts. I think it makes the honey less runny, and a bit more apt to stay put. I don't think they would have dipped the pastry in sugar after covering it with honey...

                                    1. re: roxlet

                                      It all sounds delicious to me. Thanks for your interesting comments.

                      2. If they were flat and shaped, they might be crostoli. I think there are different names for them, too.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: chowser

                          I looked at some images of Crostoli but they did not look exactly like that either. Very close but not exactly what I remember. May be Grandma made her own version of Struffoli or Crostoli. The region her family was from was Calabria. Thank you for trying to help.

                          1. re: momiecat

                            The shapes can vary. The ones I had were in a big pan, various thin shaped flat fried cookies that kind of melt together, for lack of a better description, and were covered in honey. Like this, only covered w/ honey:


                            Oh, the Calabrian version is called chiacchiere.

                            1. re: chowser

                              In other parts of Italy, those are also known as Cenci, or Lover's Knots. I've made them with both honey and powdered sugar.

                              1. re: roxlet

                                I love them. So impressed that you make them. Deep frying is my nemesis. That might not be a bad thing, given how much I love these!

                                1. re: chowser

                                  I try to make them infrequently for just that reason.

                                2. re: roxlet

                                  I asked my husband (whose mother was Calabrese) and he said theirs were called something like "scalia" (he has no idea how it's spelled, but guesses it's like the Supreme Court Justice's name). He said the dough was tied in little knots in their version.

                                  1. re: MsMaryMc

                                    We called those cenci, or lover's knots. You cut the dough into strips, and then tie them in a knot just before you fry them.

                                3. re: chowser

                                  Thank you all for your replies. I emailed my mom (who is not Italian) who said she thinks she has the recipe in one of her cookbooks. I will let you all know if I find out what they were. You all sound so close. Like I said, Grandma may have had her own style in making these. Thanks again.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Very cool. Thank you for the link. I am sure my Grandma made her own style of these. I wish I had a picture or could remember exactly what they looked like in that roasting pan but all I can remember is that it sort of reminded me of a pile of twisted metal.

                                    1. re: momiecat

                                      That's a good description of plates the guy in my Italian class brought--like a pile of twisted metal. And, I'm pretty sure he called them struffoli. It's interesting to see the variations out there, name and shapes. He's an older guy, late 70's I'd guess, Italian American (Sicilian Brooklynite) but lived in italy for years.

                                  2. re: momiecat

                                    I know exactly what you mean momiecat. My great grandmother was from Calabria and she made these too. They were twisted, flat pieces of fried dough, piled in a mound on wax paper, covered in honey and all gooey, and topped with multicolored candy ball sprinkles. They were wonderful! She used to make them at Easter time I believe. I don't know what they're called and have looked for the recipe for years. The chiacchiere seem to look the closest to what I remember except that they were not covered in powdered sugar. I may have to try making them and using the honey instead. My great grandmother died in 1977 and I haven't had them since then. :(

                                4. My Gram, Aunties, Mom and I would make "ribbon cookies". She would make a soft dough that had some orange zest in it, roll it out into thin strips using a pasta machine, then we would cut them into long 1" or so wide strips, pinch the sides together forming pockets, then pinch the pockets together forming a rosette. She would then fry them and we would drizzle with honey and top with powdered sugar.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JEN10

                                    Thanks for the idea Jen10. I think Grandma used to dredge her cookies in honey, not drizzle the honey on top. She did not use a machine. Good suggestion and sounds yummy too but I don't think that was it. As far as I remember, there was no orange taste.

                                  2. Struffoli is the little fried balls, yeah? I can't spell it, or come up with the proper name, but I believe you're talking about "shill a nooze" (dialect)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                      Hum, that is a new one. I did see something about the turriddi but cannot remember them being that dense. My mom was busy this morning. Will call her to see if she can help. Thank you all again.

                                    2. I believe they are called turriddi they are a dense cookie that is fried and then you pour warm honey on them and they all sort of stick together. Some recipes call for fig honey to be poured on them. They are yummy

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: baker7

                                        Do you have a recipe for the turriddi?

                                        1. re: roxlet

                                          I have seen a recipe on line for the turriddi.