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Italian honey balls (strufoli)

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Just about every Italian household has had these tiny delicious honey balls, or strufoli, for the holidays. This recipe was handed down through several generations and just brings happy thoughts whenever they are around. They can be served any time during the year, for any occasion but traditionally Easter is when they are most common. Generations ago these were probably all rolled individually, a very tedious task. But taking a welcome tip from one of the matriarchs of the family, these can now be rolled into long strips and cut into small pieces. Makes life so much easier and cuts the prep time down quite a bit.

These delicious bites will keep for quite a long time and can even be frozen and used at a later date. (Without the honey of course!) They will be a hit for those who remember having them at family gatherings and a new delightful taste treat for those trying them for the first time. They are traditionally coated with honey but today agave nectar is becoming more popular and can be substituted for the honey. Almost every store now stocks agave nectar, found in the organic section or with the sugars. Give it a try along with these traditional Italian treats!

INGREDIENTS:

4 eggs

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

2½ cups flour

½ cup honey (or agave nectar)

vegetable oil

colored nonpareil (confetti)

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and butter. Add flour, 1 cup at a time. The last ½ cup of flour can be added if necessary to make a smooth dough. Let dough stay in bowl, covered with a dish, for ½ hour.

2. Roll out portions of dough. Cut dough into strips, rounded like pretzels, then cut into ½-inch pieces.

3. Heat about 2½ inches of oil in the bottom of a pan or deep fryer. Fry the pieces of dough, a handful at a time. If you can do this in a frying basket, it will be easier to take them out. Place pieces on paper towels to drain.

4. Heat honey until just under the boiling point. Place strufoli in a bowl and drizzle honey over them, gently tossing. Arrange on a large platter and sprinkle with the nonpareil (confetti). You can shape into a mound on a large flat dish. (If using agave nectar there is no need to heat as the agave is thin enough to drizzle)

Makes about 150 little strufoli

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