The aromatic, crunchy nuggets melt in the mouth. The sweet caramelized and orange-scented honey coating complements the cloves and Anisette in the dough perfectly. Nonna LaRuffa’s Pignolata is a delectable dessert, and subtly addictive. Once you start eating these honey covered morsels, you just can’t stop.
- 5 pounds flour, all-purpose, sifted (plus more for the board)
- 14 eggs, large
- 2 1/2 Cups sugar, granulated
- 2 Tablespoons baking powder
- 1 Tablespoon ground cloves
- anisette (enough to wet the dough)
- 1/2 pound Crisco shortening
- 3 to 5 pounds shortening
- 1/2 Cup honey
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 3 drops orange extract
- non-pareil sprinkles (multi-colored)
- Jordan almonds
- silver dragees
- glace cherries (red and green)
- candied citron
- Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Cut in the shortening. Make a deep well and add the eggs. Work the eggs into the flour mixture to form a dough which will be very dense and dry. Do not add water, only Anisette. Knead very well.
- Cover the dough with a clean dish towel and let rest for at least 30 minutes, but as much as 3 hours to allow the dough to relax and absorb all the flavors.
- Cut the dough into 12 even slices.
- Roll each piece into a long round piece about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter. With a sharp knife (not serrated), cut small nuggets. If the long roll is 1/2 inch, each piece should be 1/2 inc long so pieces are even. Repeat until all the dough is cut into small nuggets.
- Place pieces on cookie trays or jelly roll pans and set aside under towels.
- Heat at least 3 pounds of shortening in a deep pot over medium to high heat. Keep a candy or other thermometer in the oil and maintain it at 375 degrees F.
- With a flat pierced spatula, place a scoop full of cut pieces gently in the oil. Don't drop them in as the oil will splash and can burn you.
- Using a strainer or pierced spoon, keep the pieces moving and cook only about 3 minutes until they are golden brown.
- Remove to a roasting pan lined with at least 3 layers of paper towels.
- Fry until all the pieces are cooked. Set aside to cool.
- When fully cooled and at room temperature, put the cooked nuggets into individual zip-lock plastic bags and freeze until ready to use.
- When ready, take as much as you will need from the freezer and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
- While the dough is coming to room temperature, in a medium pot, pour honey and sprinkle with sugar. Bring this to a simmer, but do not boil. Add drops of orange extract and stir before adding the nuggets.
- Using a slotted spoon, gently fold small amounts of nuggets at a time with the melted honey over medium heat. Make sure the nuggets are fully coated with the honey glaze before removing and adding another portion to the honey.
- On a plate or platter, spoon out the nuggets and spread multi-colored sprinkles.
- For formal presentation, make a ring and add sprinkles with each layer you build up.
- Once nearly completed, keep remaining honey warm and pour over the ring before garnishing with dragees, Jordan Almonds, citron and glaced cherries.
- Guests will eat the nuggets with their fingers or you can scoop out a section for individual portions.
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