Monday, December 28, 2015

An Italian Christmas—Struffoli

 For all of my Italian readers, this is the only recipe you'll need to make everyone happy for the holidays. Struffoli is an old tradition in many Italian households; it's essentially tiny balls of fried dough, drenched in honey and sprinkles. This is the go to Christmas sweet in Naples and other central/southern regions. Fair warning: there is a good deal of frying involved in making this but it is surely worth it. So whip up this classic dessert for Little Christmas this year (January 6th).

2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Canola oil, for frying
1 cup honey

Sugar sprinkles, for decoration

Mix together 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder using a paddle attachment. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix until homogeneous. Next dump the dough onto a floured surface, and knead for 8 minutes, making a smooth elastic dough. Once the mixture has been kneaded, cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave on the counter top to rest for 20 minutes (to allow to dough to relax).
While the dough is resting, heat a deep fryer or a cast iron skillet with canola oil (a 1/2 inch of oil should be plenty) to 350 Fahrenheit.

Roll your dough into 1/2 inch thick logs, then cut the dough into small pieces (roughly the size of a pea).  Roll the dough in your hands to form perfect circles. Now you may begin frying! Drop your dough into the hot oil and cook until golden. Drain the finished product over paper towels to remove excess oil. While the struffoli is cooling, heat your honey and zests in a large pot. Once the honey is thin and fluid, turn off the heat and add the struffoli. Toss the dough balls in the honey and continue to coat until the honey has cooled.

Pour the finished struffoli onto a platter and assemble as you wish. Traditionally this dessert is made to represent a Christmas tree by piling the dough high, or fashioned in a circle to resemble a wreath. However you choose to decorate, make sure to finish with lots of sprinkles on top for a finishing touch. YUM.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Slow Cooker Brownie Pudding

Crazy For Crust

1 Box brownie mix
Eggs, water, and oil (as called for on the brownie box)
1 Package ( about 3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding mix
2 Cups milk
Ice cream or whipped cream for serving

Spray a 6-7 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
Prepare brownie mix as directed on the back of the box. Pour into prepared slow cooker.
Whisk pudding mix and milk in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Pour carefully over the brownie mix in the crockpot.
Cover the crock pot with a paper towel and place the lid on top (to catch the condensation). Cook on high power 2-3 hours. It will probably take at least 2 1/2 hours, but start checking it after 2. Some of the pudding stays on the top and stays wet looking, so you cannot trust the toothpick test and it will stay somewhat jiggly until it's done. Watch the edges - when they look somewhat dry and done, then the pudding is ready. Baking time will be different for every slow cooker, but after 3 hours on high it should be done. You don't want to overcook it or the brownie (which is on the bottom) will be dry.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. Store in an airtight container in the regfrigerator for up to 3 days.

This recipe is courtesy of Crazy For Crust