From appetizer recipes, hearty entrees, vegetarian dishes to cookies, these recipes from top-tier chefs are certain to make for a memorable holiday gathering.
“Falling squarely between a cookie and a doughnut, these are a staple at any Italian-American Christmas. This version is dead simple and the flavor is punched up with lots of citruses to cut through the rich, heady flavor of good quality honey.”
3 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
¾ teaspoon fine salt
6 large eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
⅓ cup Powdered Sugar
2 Lemons, zested
1 Orange, zested
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Orange Blossom Water or Marsala (optional)
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
2 cups Honey
Jordan Almonds or Blanched Hazelnuts (optional)
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- Melt the butter over low heat, stirring often until it is half melted. Remove from heat and stir quickly until the butter is completely melted but still emulsified (the butter should look creamy and opaque, rather than transparent and separated). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, powdered sugar, zest, vanilla, and orange blossom water, begin whisking, and gently pour in the melted butter. Whisk until well combined.
- Add dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet, and stir with a spatula until a rough, sticky dough begins to form.
- Scrape the dough out onto a well-floured countertop or wooden board, and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and firm enough to pick up in one piece. This should only take a minute or two.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Ready a cookie sheet or platter by dusting lightly with flour, then lightly dust your work surface.
- Roll the dough out into a ¼” thick rectangle, then use a knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into ½” strips. Cut the strips in ½” sections, I’m sure the Nonnas of Italy would never use a ruler for this, but I suggest it for the initial strips, as ½ inch is smaller than you probably think. Your result will be lots of tiny little dough nuggets. Move them gently to a cookie sheet, shaking off excess flour, which can cause the oil to foam and bubble up.
- Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep pot or dutch oven to about 350*. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pot, fry the dough pieces until golden brown and slightly crisp on the outside. Drain on a tray or plate lined with paper towels.
- Once all of the dough is fried, juice your now zest-less citrus into a ½ cup measuring cup. Top off the cup with a splash of water or marsala if needed, then combine the juice with honey in a medium saucepot and bring to a boil, stirring often. As soon as the honey begins to boil, turn off the heat.
- Working in batches, add Strufoli to the honey syrup and stir to coat. Let them hang out in the syrup for a minute or two, then remove them with a slotted spoon to a cookie sheet while you glaze the rest.
- Sprinkle the whole tray with Nonpareils and toss to coat.
- For a casual presentation, simply slide them into a bowl and top with more sprinkles or powdered sugar to your liking.
- For a more impressive holiday centerpiece, assemble the Strufoli into a wreath shape by placing a wet glass in the center of your serving platter. Have a bowl of water nearby to keep your fingers wet (this will prevent sticking as the glaze cools) and stack the balls around the glass, forming a wreath shape. Optionally, include some whole roasted hazelnuts (you can use the same glaze to give them shine) or Jordan almonds in your wreath assembly for variation in color and texture.