Serves 12 to 16.
2 c all purpose flour
3 tsp lemon zest, divided
2 tsp orange zest
3 tbsp plus 1 packet vanilla sugar, divided
2 oz unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
3 tbsp Italian white wine such as Pinot Grigio, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c honey
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 c hazelnuts
In a bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, 2 tsp lemon zest and orange zest, 3 tbsp sugar and baking powder and mix well. Add in the butter and mix until crumbly. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg, 2 tbsp wine and extract, then add to the dough in the mixer. It will be a very sticky dough. Lightly sprinkle a piece of plastic wrap with flour then scrape the dough out on top. Sprinkle the top with flour then wrap up and chill for an hour up to overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat a pan with 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Use a candy thermometer to make sure the temperature stays constant. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and roll out one part at a time on a floured surface with a pizza or pastry cutter into one inch square pieces. Roll into balls then lightly roll in flour if they are too sticky. Repeat with remaining sections of dough. Fry the struffoli dough balls a dozen at a time, turning often for about 2-3 minutes until they turn golden. Using a basket or slotted spoon, drain off the oil and place on a paper towel lined sheet to cool. Once all the dough balls are fried, make the honey syrup.
In a large sauce pan or dutch oven combine the remaining ingredients except for the hazelnuts and bring to a boil, stirring often. Once boiling and the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and add in the struffoli and hazelnuts and stir to coat everything in the syrup well. Let cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a cake plate or serving platter. The struffoli will be very sticky at this point, so use cooking spray on a spatula or bands to shape the struffoli into a tower or wreath.Sprinkle with Christmas colored sprinkles and serve with Italian hot chocolate. Best served on the same day.
Italian Hot Chocolate Ingredients 3 Tbsp Cocoa powder
4 ounces dark chocolate
2 Tbsp whole milk
21/2 Tbsp sugar
2 cups half and half
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water
In a saucepan and over medium low heat, combine the cocoa powder, chocolate, whole milk and sugar, stirring until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the half and half and heat until almost simmering but not bubbling. Mix the corn starch with the water and add to the cocoa mixture in the pan and stir until very thick. It will have a thick pudding-like consistency. Pour into espresso cups and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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