Many families have traditions that they make sure they do every year at the holiday time.
We are no exception. Pingolata or Struffoli dessert is our Italian holiday tradition passed down for generations. Christmas would not be the same if we did not make the ping. It is our Italian Holiday Tradition!
Food is very important to Italians.
This is a joke but not too far from the truth. And at the holidays food huge to Italians. Italian Cookies, Feast of the 7 fishes on Christmas Eve and Pingolata are just some of the main Italian holiday traditions.
My brother and I have carried on the tradition of making the ping (what we call pingolata) in memory of our dear mother, Elizabeth. Her mother made it and mothers before her. My brother and I don’t have any daughters, but I am hopeful my sons will carry on the tradition.
Pingolata is a fairly simple recipe but it does take several hours to complete. We dedicate a half of a day to make it, and that is after the dough has been mixed the day before and left to chill in the refrigerator. It gives us time to get caught up on our busy lives. You could make ping alone, but it has always been a group project for us.
Here is the recipe which aunts have tweaked over the years:
This recipe is for one batch. We always make at least 2 batches and add way more chocolate and slivered almonds than is listed in the recipe.
I love the Mangia my aunt wrote at the bottom!
Making The Dough
After mixing the first 5 items, which makes the dough, mold it into a semi flattened disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator for several hours.
The dough will be sticky. Put some flour on the entire disc. Plus, generously flour the surface you will use to roll it out on. It is easier to work in small sections. Cut off about an eighth of the disc when ready to roll it out.
After the dough is rolled out to about ¼” thickness it is cut into ½” strips. Typically, we roll the strips into pencil like pieces which are cut into small pieces.
Tip: You can save some time and skip the rolling step and just cut the flat strips into pieces. The cooked pieces don’t look much different.
Next comes the cooking process.
In small batches put the cut dough pieces in vegetable oil that has been heated to 375 degrees.
When the dough balls turn light brown, it is time to take them out to drain.
At some point the slivered almonds will need to be toasted. You can do it before you start this whole process or fit it in while you are cooking dough. We toast in a skillet, constantly stirring until lightly brown. They burn easily so don’t walk away.
After all the batches of the dough are cooked it is time to heat the honey mixture. The honey mixture must simmer for 6-7 minutes before it is ready to pour on the dough balls.
Our double batch of the cooked dough balls and toasted almonds.
While my brother was cooking the dough balls I was chopping the chocolate. We used both milk chocolate with almonds and dark chocolate.
When the honey is ready use a large bowl to mix part of the dough balls with the honey and almonds. Make sure you keep stirring to get the honey distributed throughout. It is easier to do this step in a couple of batches. After the honey has cooled (very important to cool first) the chocolate can be stirred in.
When I was young my mother would form the ping into a Christmas Tree like form and then it would be sliced into pieces to eat.
Now since we like to give some of the ping away as gifts we put it in cupcake papers.
My aunts put colored sprinkles on top, but we have never done that. Occasionally we will dust powdered sugar on top just prior to serving.
This is how much a double batch will make. It is a delicious Italian holiday dessert that has been passed down for generations. I am proud to be able to carry on our Italian Holiday Tradition.