My ancestors were strong, courageous, determined Italian men and women who traveled across an ocean to start a new life in America. They left their homes and families in the tumultuous time between the 1860s and early 1900s, after Giuseppe Garibaldi conquered Sicily and Naples and turned these territories over to King Victor Emmanuel II. It was a time when Italians found themselves divided in Garibaldi’s attempt to create a united Italy. The south was heavily taxed in order to benefit the north, and southern Italy struggled under the weight of the new laws and regulations. With the promise of freedom and opportunity, Southern Italians poured through the ports of America in droves. Although they left so much behind, there were things that they took with them. They brought with them their traditions and culture. Some of those traditions have been passed down through the generations and we honor our ancestors today when we celebrate holidays and recreate the memories that were so special to them. For me, one of those traditions is baking Struffoli at Christmas time.
My Great Grandmother Pauline (Paola) DeLuca Autorino, brought this recipe with her from Poggiomarino, in the Campania Region of Italy. She taught it to my grandmother, who taught it to my mother, who taught it to me and, as you can see from the pictures below, when my daughter was four years old, I taught it to her. It isn’t Christmas in our house without homemade Struffoli! If you’d like to try the recipe, here it is.
It’s my Christmas gift to you!
3 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons Crisco
1/3 cup warm water, add more if needed.
Combine ingredients and roll dough into long “snakes,” then cut into small pieces and roll pieces into balls.
Deep fry 350 degrees Fahrenheit in Crisco until light brown. Dump into bowl lined with paper towel. Put honey and sprinkles on top of cookies.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy