Today’s Christmas treats are brought by Lora of Cake Duchess. I’ve been known Lora since I start blogging and she never cease to amaze me with her creativity. She’s very creative in her baking, but our love for homemade bread is what made us close friends. With recipes like “No knead dinner rolls” , “Marbled chocolate brioche”  and a step-by-step sourdough starter, she’ll sure win your attention in no time.



Hello, everyone! I am Lora and it is a thrill to be guest posting today for my dear friend, Roxana. Roxana was one of the first people I met through my food blog. She is an incredible baker with a huge heart. I hope to one day meet her in person and have a taste of one of her stunning layer cakes or pretty breads.  Roxana asked me to share a holiday recipe for her #25recipestoXmas series. I couldn’t think of any better holiday recipe to share than these Sicilian honey balls (pignolata). My father is from Sicily and I spent many years there as a child and an adult.


Pignolata is one of the most popular southern Italian sweets made for Christmas. It’s a Sicilian dessert but it is also common in Calabria.  It used to be made in Sicily during Carnevale, but is now also made during Christmas. Pignolata show up all over Sicily under different names: pignocata, pagnuccata, pignolata. You may be familiar with them being referred to as struffoli and can find them in pastry shops at Christmas time. It is important to use good honey when making them and also the right amount.  It’s also important to make them the right size so you can enjoy the honey glaze more.

These pignolata will add a sweet dash of Christmas cheer to your holiday festivities!


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 hour



  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (extra may be needed)
  • Syrup
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • zest of one large orange
  • 1 cup orange blossom honey
  • Vegetable oil to fry
  • Sprinkles


    To make the dough
  1. In the bowl of a large mixer, beat eggs sugar, salt and oil.
  2. Sift the flour into the mix and beat on medium speed with a dough hook until you obtain a soft dough. Add more flour as needed a little at a time if the dough is too sticky.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until it is smooth.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll into ropes (about ½ inch thick). Cut each rope into ½ inch pieces and roll the pieces in your hands (like you’re making meatballs) into little balls.
  6. Toss a little bit of flour on the dough balls so they don’t stick while you roll the other pieces.
  7. Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan to 350 degrees F.
  8. Carefully add about 6 pieces of dough at a time and fry until they are evenly browned (about 3 minutes).
  9. Remove the dough pieces with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat process until you fry all the pieces of dough.
  10. To make the syrup
  11. In a large skillet, bring the sugar, water and orange zest to a boil. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves.
  12. Whisk in the honey; reduce the heat to medium-high.
  13. Add the balls and stir to coat them evenly with the honey syrup. Cook for about 5 minutes until they obtain a nice glaze.
  14. Immediately place them on serving plate stacking them like a pinecone. Use caution as they are very hot.
  15. Toss on the sprinkle

Thank you for having me on your delicious blog, Roxana.  I want to wish everyone Buon Natale…a very Merry Christmas!



You can keep up with Lora by subscribing to her RSS feed or follow on social media : Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

For other Christmas sweet check out #25recipestoXmas



Sending love your way,




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    Hello! My name is Roxana and I'm a self-taught baker, wanna-be photographer and the writer behind Roxana's Home Baking, where I share original and adapted scratch recipes. 

Here you'll find no fuss, no hassle easy recipes with ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen.  Read more ....


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  1. says

    see, THIS is why I want Lora to be my neighbor… well, one of the reasons.

    Jason spent a summer in Italy after college, and I love to hear the stories he tells… I will go there with him one day! until then I need to make these, they sound perfect!

  2. Lisa says

    Question: Do these have a strong orange flavor? I am not a huge fan of orange and want to try these because they sound great! (I’m also Sicilian and would love to have a heritage inspired treat) Could I omit the orange? Or use less?

  3. Lora @cakeduchess says

    Thank you for the sweet comments, everyone. I wish you all happy holidays and send you hugs. :) Thank you again, Roxy. xo

  4. Carol | a cup of mascarpone says

    I have been eating these since I was baby able to chew! :) My southern Italian family called them struffoli, but made the exact same way. A beautiful recipe, Lora!!!

  5. Rose says

    These are such a wonderful Italian tradition for the Christmas holidays…..trying adding some good quality, chopped chocolate along with the sprinkles….it is awesome! Happy Holidays

  6. Virginia says

    My family is from Naples, and we call these Struffoli, it’s the same recipe….it’s not Christmas unless there is a tin pie plate filled with these beauties sitting on the dining room table….soooooo good!!!

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