On this cold January day I felt like bringing a burst of sunshine into my kitchen, so decided to make a classic Neopolitan dish called struffoli.
It's very hard to come by struffoli in the UK, but they're basically like tiny doughnuts. They're usually served around Christmas time, but since they taste delicious at any time of year I think I can get away with it for now.
My Grandma learned to make them whilst growing up in a town called Grottaminarda in Italy, and she taught me the recipe over ten years ago now. Whilst years of practice have given her the wonderful ability to judge all measurements by eye, I'm afraid I had to do a little research to discover what 'a small handful of sugar' should equate to. Still, I very much relied on her lessons for this recipe!
I started by making the dough from flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla essence, and a little lemon and orange zest. When my Grandma taught me how to make these, she took her time kneading the dough, ensuring that all the ingredients were mixed thoroughly, and I'm pleased to say that my food processor had the same approach (ah, the wonders of the modern age!).
After the dough rested in the fridge for half an hour, I started rolling it into small balls (around the size of marbles) and then deep fried these at a medium heat in a combination of sunflower and groundnut oil (just to add a little extra flavour). It only took a few minutes for the struffoli to turn golden brown before they were whipped out and placed on kitchen roll to remove any excess oil.
Struffoli are traditionally coated in a sticky honey glaze with cinnamon and sprinkles but my Nan has always coated them simply in icing sugar, and as my husband's not tried them before I thought it would be best to stick to family tradition on this occasion. However, I did also sprinkle them with a few chopped hazelnuts just to compliment the ground nut oil in the crust.
And voilà (or should I say qui?) - the final result! Perhaps I'll make some for when I next see my Nan and get the expert opinion on how they turned out!