These simple fried dough balls are generally considered a must at carnival time! They’re known by different names according to region. In my hubby’s area south of Salerno they’re known as Struffoli, but here in Abruzzo we call them Cicerchiata. Roughly translated this means a ring of chickpeas, or ceci, which both they and their name resemble!
- 4¾ cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 T white sugar
- 1 dash salt
- ½ lemon zest (grated peel)
- 4 fresh eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 5½ T melted butter or extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon rum extract
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- 1½ 12-oz jars (400-500 g) honey
- ¼ cup cookie (sugar) sprinkles
- ⅓ cup toasted almonds chopped
- Sift flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest together.
- Add the eggs, butter or olive oil, and rum extract and mix in to form a soft mass.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead into a soft ball.
- Roll into a long rope or snake ¼-½ inch in diameter, then cut into pieces about ½ inch long.
- Roll these pieces into little balls, dusting to keep from sticking.
- Heat the vegetable oil and fry the dough balls in batches until golden, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper.
- Heat the honey in a saucepan over low heat until a bit dropped in cold water forms a ball.
- Drop the cooked balls and walnuts in, stir until coated and caramelized, and all the honey is absorbed.
- Rinse a serving plate and pour off excess water. Arrange the balls in a ring shape around the plate. Sprinkle with cookie sprinkles.
- Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
These delicious sweets are not just for carnival parties though. They’re also traditionally served at Christmas and Easter.