Pignolata or pignoccata is an ancient Sicilian dessert, typical of Sicily, but it is easy to find it throughout southern Italy during Christmas time or Carnival. Similar to the struffoli of Naples, it differs from them as for its shape, like small pine cones.
HONEY PIGNOLATA RECIPE
500 g unbleached flour
5 whole eggs
200 g sugar
100 g honey
½ glass water
a pinch of salt
zest of one large orange
100 g sprinkles, toasted almonds, candied orange
Pour the sifted flour into a bowl, then add salt, sugar, orange zest and, finally, the whole eggs.
Mix the all ingredients by hand, then transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until it is smooth. Then give it the shape of a compact block. Cover it with a wrap and let it cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Divide the dough into small pieces and roll into ropes (about 1 cm thick). Cut each rope into 1 cm pieces and roll the pieces in your hands (like you’re making meatballs) into little balls.
Now you can cook the dough balls. Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan to 170 degrees. Carefully put few pieces of dough at a time and fry until they are evenly browned (about 3-4 minutes). Then remove them with the help of a skimmer and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat process until you fry all the pieces of dough.
Pick up the balls in a bowl and pour over honey, when they are still warm. Immediately place them on serving plate stacking them like a pinecone. Toss on the sprinkle.
There is a different version of the pignolata, mostly spread in Messina and Ragusa areas and dating back to the Aragonese domination.
In the Messina recipe, the most famous one, the pignolata is covered with a sweet lemon and chocolate icing