Struffoli

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Of the many pastries and dishes that Italy has gifted to the world, the Neapolitan treat known as struffoli holds a special place at the holiday table for southern Italian and Italian-American families alike. The dish originally came to Naples from Greece, and the name struffoli comes from the Greek word stróngylos, meaning "round." Struffoli can be found throughout southern Italy, with many names and varieties, including cicerata and cicerchiata.

Struffoli consist of dough balls that are fried until crispy, drenched in honey, and decorated with colorful candied fruit and nonpareil sprinkles. Almost better than the flavor is the presentation; the dough balls are stacked high to form pyramids, towers, Christmas trees, or wreaths. When presented to guests, struffoli practically sparkle with their sugary coating, vibrant sprinkles, and glacé fruit.

Although traditionally eaten on Christmas in Naples and southern Italy, struffoli are also served on Easter in most Italian-American homes. In fact, many Italian bakeries in the United States go so far as to sell this treat only for Easter. One reason for this might be that the similar cicerchiata are traditionally served for Mardi Gras in the southern Italian region of Abruzzo.