Our Mother of Good Counsel Church
Struffoli (STROO- foh-lee)appeared on the dining room sideboard during Christmas week after the visit of our Aunt Margaret. Christmas week was the time for visits from members of the extended family who were not at the table for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Aunt Margaret was not really an aunt. She was a spinster lady who lived with her sister and mother. Her mother was my grandmother’s maid of honor on my grandmother’s wedding day, January 1, 1900 at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church at 8th and Christian in South Philadelphia. To the Italian American parishioners the church was called “Buon Consiglio.” The church, my grandmother and my Aunt Margaret are now all long gone. The stroffoli continue.
from The Red List http://theredlist.fr
My grandmother and her maid of honor were from Torre Annunziata, the town known for its artisanal pasta. Torre Annunziata is home to Setaro pasta, the best I have ever used.
Setaro pasta is available online at http://www.supermarketitaly.com/setaro-pasta/ or in Manhattan at Buon Italia. But there is another pasta company in Torre Annunziata, unknown in America, “Monsurró”. “Monsurró” is the pasta company of my great-grandmother’s family.
No one made stroffoli at our house.Even though my Irish descent mother adopted and adapted many other Italian cookies and recipes, struffoli was not one of them; perhaps because there was no need. Aunt Margaret’s mother provided our Christmas supply. Along with the struffoli she also brought a tray of fried ribbons glazed with honey. While I have found a similar recipe called “galani,” a ribbon strip fried and finished with powdered sugar, I have not found the kind finished with honey. Aunt Margaret’s struffoli were mounded and covered in colored sprinkles. The struffoli on this page are my sister’s and are presented in a wreath shape.
The most important part of shaping the dough is that they are to be small, no bigger than a hazel nut. In fact, for some families there seems to be a tradition to mix hazel nuts with the struffoli.
Historically, the struffoli must be one of the oldest sweets known. Their simple composition of fried dough and honey suggest that predate the arrival of sugar in Europe. Some food and language historians trace the word “struffoli” to the Greeks when they first colonized Southern Italy sometime around the 7th century BC. The first mention of a struffoli recipe occurs in an Italian cookbook of the 17th century. See http://www.struffoli.it/storia.htm
The best part of struffoli is that they are the perfect finger food. As you pick up a little cluster of the gooey balls, you swirl your fingers in the dense honey. Stroffoli, honey and finger tips all in the mouth at once.