Even if you heritage is not Italian, most people have seen these little balls in bakeries around Christmas time. They are the size of marbles, golden, dripping with honey, and coloured non-pariels. When my grandmother made them for the holidays, they were like lead fishing weights. I altered her recipe a bit and added baking powder and found they are much lighter. I also let the dough rest a while after rolling the dough into balls. Seems to help the glutens relax.
They really are very easy to make. It just amounts to making dough, shaping that dough into little balls, frying them, and then dropping them into warm honey. Piece of cake!
Anyway, these have a been a holiday favourite of mine since I was old enough to steal more than my share from a platter. They are positively the best when you can enjoy them still warm. They'll keep nicely for a couple of days if you wrap them very very well. They don't seem to mind a few seconds in the microwave, either, to return them to a warm state.
2 1/2 c flour
1 egg yolk
1/4 c shortening
1T baking powder
1/2 t. lemon zest
2 C vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 C honey
1t orange zest
Place flour on board, making a well in the center. Place eggs, egg yolk, shortening, sugar, salt and lemon peel into the well. Mix well, working the dough with your hands. Shape into very small balls, the size of marbles. Let the dough balls rest about 15-20 minutes, covered with damp paper towels, while you heat the oil in a deep stock pot. Drop the balls, a few at a time into the hot oil (350 degrees) until golden brown. They'll float, just turn them around a bit for even browning.
Melt honey in a saucepan and add orange zest. As soon as the balls are fried, take them from the oil directly to the honey pot. Let them float around in there for about 30 seconds. Lift them out of the honey with a slotted spoon, placing them on a serving platter, piling them into a conical shape. Sprinkle with non-pariels while the honey is still warm.
We always have this with espresso with annisette.
ps---My grandmother's recipe is from the early 1920s...before food processors and kitchen fryers. Feel free to use either piece of equipment if you have them. I do.