Traditional Neapolitan desserts: the Struffoli

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The struffoli are considered to be Naples oldest desserts. They were, in fact, introduced by the Greek settlers when they built the famous town of Partenope (the old name of the town) during the seventh century b. C. Together with other typical Neapolitan pastries they are always present among the whole range of delicious Christmas desserts.

They are easy and quick to make and they turn into a special after dinner treat.They simply taste delicious.

Here is my recipe

Ingredients

400 gr all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

6 eggs

1 tablespoon anise liqueur

zest from half a lemon

zest from half an orange

1 pinch of salt

270 gr sugar

250 gr honey

150 gr candied fruit (orange peel, lemon peel, cedro peel)

50 gr colorful Diavolini sprinkles

50 gr Cannellini sprinkles – long shaped white confetti (bonbons)

20 gr yeast

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

In order to prepare the dough, combine flour and sugar in a large bowl or on a lightly floured surface. Stir in a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre of the mound and add the eggs and the yeast crumbled. Use your hands to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Then punch down the centre of the dough with your fist and add a few drops of the anise liqueur, the lemon zest and the orange zest. Stir the mixture until well combined and add some more flour if the dough is still sticky. When it is smooth and elastic again, create a ball and place the dough into a bowl, cover it with a damp tea towel and set it aside in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, tip it on a clean and floured surface and cut the dough into small pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Then, using your hands, roll each ball into a long rope, like a thin sausage, ¼ inch thick. Cut it into small pieces about the size of a hazelnut and place them all on parchment paper. Continue until you have used up all the dough.

Fill a deep saucepan with vegetable frying oil until it is at least 5 centimeters high and place it on medium heat. When the oil reaches the boiling temperature carefully drop the balls, one by one, into it and watch the balls bubble up into a golden brown, about 1 or 2 minutes. Stir them until they are golden brown on all sides. They should be crunchy on the outside but light in texture. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the struffoli on a tray lined with kitchen paper and toss them to make sure that they drain properly. Quiclky continue frying all the remaining dough balls until all of them turn into a golden brown colour and let them drip.

Pour the honey into a large pot and heat it until it is slightly runny, then turn off the heat and add all the cooked struffoli, the candied fruit (orange, lemon or cedro peels) and the bonbons (confetti). Stir until they are completely coated in the honey mixture. Transfer the struffoli onto a serving dish and arrange them into a Christmas round wreath shape or a large mound or any other shape you may desire. Drizzle the remaining honey over the struffoli and decorate them with colorful sprinkles and anything else sweet and tempting. Let them cool and serve them after a few hours at room temperature.

Merry Christmas!

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My English blog

Christmas in Naples

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This is a typical presepe that can be found in the town of  Naples

There is a kind of magic atmosphere in the town of Naples when Christmas is approaching and Christmas coloured twinkling lights embellish most of the shops and streets of the town. Christmas season starts on the 8th of December and traditionally finishes on the 6th of Janauary, the Epiphany Day. People enjoy going out every evening to go and see friends, to attend a concert going on into the streets or inside the churches, which are decorated by creches made by the most famous artisans. The celebrated San Gregorio Armeno street, where the nativity scene builders show their artworks, becomes so packed with visitors that it is almost impossible to walk and look at the many artisans’ shops showing and selling the miniatures needed to create a “presepio” (crib). Therefore the town council has decided to regulate the pedestrian access, which is strictly one-way. Here, little statues representing Saint Joseph, Virgin Mary, Baby Jesus and the different characters who were present when Divine Infant was born, are showed in those presepi who recreate the Nativity scene at the little village of Bethlemme. Miniatures of buildings, pizza ovens, mills, exotic fruits, gastronomic delights and many household objects are also displayed for selling. The music of the notorious “zampognari” (shepherds-players) is heard everywhere in the narrow alleys and courtyards of the city. Children laughing and playing into the streets marvel at the harmonic sound of the “zampogne“, the famous bagpipes used in Southern Italy. All the markets, where the most typical local products are sold, are now decorated with Christmas ornaments and they sell all the most traditional Christmas cakes, like the “susamielli“, the “s” shaped biscuits, the almond pastry known as “roccocò“, the “struffoli” dough balls, the chocolate covered “mostacciuoli” and other small pastries.

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Naples Cathedral

As Christmas is considered to be a Family celebration, everyone gets ready for the festivities when family members and friends gather together to commemorate Christmas in peace. The Advent time is often associated with religious ceremonies, but the New Year’s Eve becomes a real tribute to joy and happiness, with the most spectacular fireworks which go on, into the entire city and its surroundings, for almost two hours before and after midnight. There is no other place in the world that can compare the Christmas season in Naples.