Vegan Struffoli (Italian Vegan "Honey" Balls)
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons vegan margarine, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice (optional)
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel (optional)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
1 to 2 cups agave nectar
1) In large bowl mix soy milk, applesauce, margarine, vanilla, fresh orange juice (optional), and grated orange peel until just combined. I really LOVE the orange flavor in this dish but you're welcome to modify the amount of orange flavor to your taste. If you like less orange flavor, do not add the freshly squeezed orange juice. If you like a citrus-y dessert you may also add 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel.
2) In separate mixing bowl sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix gently until well combined. Dough will become crumbly so you've got to get your hands involved and gently knead dough until all flour is combined with batter. Dough will be moderately sticky.
3) In a medium frying pan, pour 1/2" of oil into the pan. Ideally you want enough oil to allow the balls to float and not burn on the bottom of the pan. Turn heat to medium.
4) Take dough and roll it into a thick log on a clean surface. Rip off strips of dough and roll into little logs about 1" thick. Make sure the dough is rolled hard so there are no creases and deformities (this will make sure the dough rises properly in the pan). Cut the log into 1/2" pieces (bite size) and put on a plate.
5) Drop pieces about 10 at a time into hot oil in frying pan. Cooking time takes less than a minute so be attentive! When the bottom has reached a light golden brown, flip the ball over with tongs to brown the other side. When both sides are lightly golden brown stack onto a serving plate. If balls begin burning, turn heat down a bit. Repeat this until all balls are finished.
6) When all balls are cooked and stacked (this is traditionally served at Christmas so it should resemble the cone shape of a Christmas tree) pour 1 to 2 cups agave nectar over the balls. This is a very sweet dish, so add agave nectar to taste. Add sprinkles and serve hot!
Source of recipe: This recipe is based on my husband's Nana's (grandmas) recipe that I modified to make vegan. When our cousin flew in from Italy we made it for her and she raved about it and said she couldn't taste the difference. She also said that in Italy they put potatoes in the recipe so if anyone is feeling adventurous, I'd welcome them to add some cooked potatoes to the batter.