Friday, January 18, 2008

Honey balls

Cicerchiate, fried small doughs coated with cooked honey, mixed with chopped nuts and candied fruit, sometimes with colored sprinkles. This shape is formed by mini fluted pan, mine is made of silicon for easier un-molding

I've been going around town these few days for quite many errands, met the same sort of people and seen the same stuffs at stores, I just feel everything so ... so... 'old'. Boy, I'm weird. There are not even 3 weeks past 2007! But good thing is, that feeling discourages me from going crazy on sales.

Good food is timeless, and boundless.

The cicerchiate is balls of fried dough joined into ring shapes by cooked honey. My husband when he was a little boy used to have it on the New Year's eve with his Italian uncle and aunt. My husband spoke no Italian so he called it honey balls. Chinese has our own new year (usually in late Jan or early February), interesting thing is, some of our traditional sweets their preparation and taste are so much alike to cicerchiate, like "smiley dates" (fried round sweet dough) and "crunchy rice" (popped rice grains bound by caramelized sugar). Go try it, it properly brings you a reminiscence of some sort.

On the left, the pre-fried dough. Please note that due to the time spending on photo-taking, the dough has dried up a bit. On the right, I think I cooked the honey too much on the high heat so such a dark color is created.

I mixed candied squash and candied kiwi in this cicerchiate, which are produced in Alimente, Spain

Recipe of Piccole Cicerchiate (yield two mini "towers", about 9 cm in diameter)

  • 150 g plain flour
  • 1 - 2 tbps mild flavored olive oil
  • 1 + 1/2 eggs
  • a good dash of sweet wine, like Marsala
  • a pinch of salt
  • a bit of lemon zest

For binding:

  • about 125 g honey of your choice
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied fruit
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts of your choice
  • colored sprinkles


  • In a big mixing bowl, combine flour, oil, eggs, salt, wine and lemon zest, knead well. You should give the dough many rests (cover) between kneadings so that the gluten in the dough has enough time to relax; you will manipulate the dough better. The dough should be tender and slightly moist (not wet).
  • Divide the dough into 6 smaller portions, roll each to be a long thin log, about 1 cm in diameter. Again, in between rolling give your doughs a plenty of rest (cover).
  • Cut the log into tiny balls, in the size of chickpea.
  • Pre-heat 2-inch-deep oil, fry the balls (don't overcrowd) for a few minutes over medium or medium-high heat, adjust the heat from time to time. We aim for slightly golden color. Drain the fried doughs and set them aside.
  • In a medium-small pot, cook the honey (watch out, once it gets to boil it will rise up quick and overfill) for a few minutes to thicken up a bit. Skim the foam. Drop the fried balls in and cook for another minute or 2. Mix with candied fruit and nuts. Turn the heat off.
  • Pile the honey balls in your desired container, pre-wet by water if yours isn't made of silicon. I let mine totally cool in refrigerator before un-molding.
  • Decorate the cicerchiate with sprinkles if desire.



Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

The sweetness of honey is so wonderfully symbolic of the new year. In the Jewish tradition, we eat honey cake to mark the start of the new year.

Pooja said...

That is completely new sweet for me, you presented it very well Gattina. Looks yummy ! :P.

Gattina Cheung said...

Lydia, thanks for telling me about your tradition :) I'm always interested to know.

Pooja, oh thanks. The large range of sweets in your country never fails to impress me!

Mansi said...

everytime I come ehre there's something new to learn!! its always such a pleasure to visit yur blog:)

Callipygia said...

Oh I wish I weren't afraid of frying...the presentation is so festive, kind of reminds me of these fried korean cookies that are soaked in syrup.

Anh said...

What a lovely treat! I find that the Greek also have something similar, too. But your presentation makes everything so festive and dramatic! :D

Lore said...

I usually pick salty treats when I decide what to bake because I like them more. Your recipe is about to change that :)

Katie Zeller said...

All that lovely honey....YUM! I love it...and the fruits. I wonder if I could do that with our kiwi fruit!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

OMG, that looks wonderful end extremely mouthwatering! Awesome and really tempting!



Saffron said...

Hi Darling! Happy New year! My dad loves cicerchiate! It's a typical sweet food from Abruzzo (as you know!) Baci

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I got all excited as soon as I saw the name of your recipe, then when I saw the photos, I was completely blown away! These are spectacular, Gattina. Honey=goodness.

aminah said...

there is something soo wonderfully tantalising with recipes from one's past (childhood) and the taste is ussually even tastier years later! Honey has always been an essential in my home (now and then) mother sweetens her tea with it, and I use it mixed with fresh ginger tea for medicinal purposes and my sister smothers it all over her face for soft skin (she swears by it) here here to honey and your wonderful blog Gattina!!
hugs aminah

Helene said...

Just gorgeous! Reminds me of a treat by the Turkish vendour or by dorm room way back when!
You should enter it on our
Time To Make The Doughnuts Event

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Yes, Gattina it belongs in the Time To Make The Doughnuts Event!
Wow that is spectacular!

Gattina Cheung said...

Mansi desai, you sweet words make my day! thank you :)

Calli, thanks! Did you have them when you lived in Italy? I used to see them at Italian grocery stores when I still lived in NJ, but they're expensive, so I hadn't ever have them.

Anh, thank you so much for your encouragement :)

Lore, oh so am I! thanks!

Katie, you have kiwi bush/tree? I really like their taste, and their look (skin-off...).

Thank you so much Rosa!

Simona, I notice that you haven't updated your post for a while, hope everything fine with you. Best wishes to you and your family, and your job!

Susan, a comment from you, an Italian descent, means particularly special to me :) I thought you had made them so searched it at your recipe box... anyway, an excuse to see your other goodies :)

Aminah, me too, my family and my childhood were bonded with honey. The relatives from my father's side used to keep honey bees, we ate the bee wax, but which I didn't care for.
Imagine one day we can meet, enjoying cuppa of honey tea...

Helene, thanks for reminding me about the event! You're special gal, I'll make a special treat for this event!

Gattina Cheung said...

Tanna, thanks for your encouragement! The honey balls, however, after all set, the texture is more like nogut... surprise :) :) Your comeplement means a lot to me.

Peabody said...

Yum, that looks gooey and good!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Wow! I have GOT to try those! So pretty!

Cynthia said...

I just want to snag one of those honey balls right now :) Your work is beautiful as always my friend.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen this recipe. It looks marvelous--and I know that people would love the way it looks and tastes. I love anything in little balls! :):)

Chris said...

I could eat and eat and eat these! They remind me of Struffoli - the Italian version of honey balls. I love the tower you made with yours. Yum!