Struffoli – Forget What You Know About Wheat(c)

 s    Popular in the Campania region of Italy as a holiday dessert, these puffed honey balls are tantalizing. I fondly recall making the gluten rich version with my Great Aunties as a child, hands in a well of flour, rolling snakes and licking honey from my fingers.   Listening and enjoying the Kitchen Wisdom of my elders; sharing love, life lessons and making dough.  

     This gluten free Struffoli recipe is easy to mold and behaves much like its gluten rich counterpart.  However, getting there is a bit different.  Gluten free Struffoli dough is a tacky batter, it is not the kneading dough of gluten flour.   Making Struffoli is a laborious process; however it is a labor of love.  Once the batter is prepared, the Struffoli are formed and briefly fried.  One does not need a lot of oil to fry these puffs.  The key is for the oil to be hot, not smoking hot, cooking a few puffs at a time, briefly frying.  I personally don’t care for sprinkles, the food coloring and food factory nature of the product doesn’t sit well in my tummy.  I spent some time researching Struffoli recipes and it seems that in the old days in the Old Country, zest was used for decoration.  I have chosen to follow that model.  These Struffoli are very healthy, more like a Southern Italian trail mix.  I hope your family enjoys these as much as mine!

Yields enough for two 8” plates

¾ cup gluten free Sweet Rice Flour

1 ½ cups gluten free Brown Rice Flour

1 cup gluten free Sorghum Flour

¼ cup gluten free Potato Flour

1 ½ cups gluten free Potato Starch

2 teaspoons gluten free Baking Powder

½ teaspoon Baking Soda

¾ teaspoon gluten free Guar Gum

1/8 teaspoon Salt

4 tablespoons Sugar

9 whole Eggs

5 tablespoons cubed Butter

Zest 1 Lemon

Zest 1 Orange

2/3 cup Honey*

3-4  tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½ cup slivered Almonds

3  tablespoons Pignoli (Pine Nuts)

1 tablespoon Water



Place all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (rice flours, sorghum, potato flour & starch, baking powder, baking soda, guar gum, salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar).  Mix on low to aerate and fully combine.

Zest the peels of lemon & orange, mix the zest together.  Add ½ of the zest to the batter.  Reserve the remaining zest for later.  Retrieve two 8 inch serving plates and set aside for later.

Cube the butter and add it to the batter in two additions, mix thoroughly until the flour resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the whole eggs one at a time, mixing in between additions.  Be sure to scrape down the inside of the bowl as necessary.

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Create the Puffs:  Place enough wax paper to cover 3 feet of counter space.  Pluck dough approximately 2 inches in diameter and roll it out to form snakes ½ inch in diameter and 8 inches in length.  Use a butter knife to cut ½ inch pieces, pinch ends to round slightly.  Place each piece on the wax paper. Use a piece of wax paper to loosely cover the top of the puffs until they are fried.

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Fry the Puffs:  Line 2 cookie sheets with paper towel, set aside.  Use a heavy bottomed fry pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and warm the pan to hot (but not smoking), add a few puffs at a time.  Fry for 20-30 seconds and flip to fry for another 20-30 seconds.  Remove to paper towel lined cookie sheets.

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Toast the Nuts:  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the almonds on a cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes until golden.  Remove to a plate.  Then place the pignoli on the cookie sheet and bake for 6 minutes until golden.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

Make the Honey Syrup:  I use a large pot; heat the honey, 3 tablespoons of sugar, water and 1 teaspoon of zest.  The addition of sugar to the honey will allow the Struffoli structure to form and have integrity.  Allow the honey mixture to heat up to a simmer and cook until thoroughly melted and combined.   Mix ¾ of the nuts into the puffs then add the puffs to the honey.

     Assemble:  Using wet hands gather puffs and place on a large serving plate.  Gather all puffs into a mound.  Sprinkle with remaining nuts and top with zest.  Allow to sit for at least 3 hours before serving.  Struffoli keep for about 5 days.


“Struffoli” by Liz Conforti,  Forget What You Know About Wheat(c) 2014

*I used honey from a friend who is part of Vermont’s Back Yard Bee Keeping Movement


Honey from a Back Yard Bee Keeper, Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free Article


Related Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free Articles:

“What is Gluten” 

“Some Basics in Learning to Bake Gluten Free” 

“Cross Contact in Shared Kitchens with Gluten Free and Gluten Rich Ingredients”

“What Does Gluten Free Really Mean?” 

“Condiments – Beware of Hidden Gluten”   

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