Limoncello Pebble Cake


I call it a cake purely because I gave it a cake-like shape, but  it's actually Struffoli, a traditional Italian (Neapolitan, to be precise) dessert with a "twist". Visually, it resembles monkey bread but is essentially different since there is no baking involved whatsoever. It's fried and that is what makes it so special, because there is no way to know it  by the way it tastes. Frying gives you the lovely orange-lemon tasting dough which is slightly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, covered in limoncello liqueur and white chocolate cream.  The best way to serve it (personal opinion) is to put it on a share plate and  to nibble your way through to the last crumb. In the (very unlikely) event that you end up with some leftovers, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate. It will last for a few days, although the dough will absorb the moisture and it will be less and less creamy by the day.

Limoncello Pebble Cake

(the name given by my husband, otherwise known as
Strufolli a la Creme de Limoncello)

The cake is made over the course of 2 days.

For the Struffoli:
500g plain flour
80g sugar
5g baking powder ( 1 1/2 tsp)
7g vanilla sugar, vanilla pod, or essence
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
50g unsalted butter
5 eggs
oil for frying

For the Limoncello cream
250 ml  double or whipping cream
100g or 1/4 cup glucose syrup
1 vanilla bean, scraped
300g white chocolate
50 ml Limoncello liqueur

Day 1

Mix all the ingredients  for Struffoli  in a food processor or by hand to make a smooth dough, wrap it up in a cling film and refrigerate for 12 hours (best to make in the evening and leave it in the fridge overnight).
Now prepare the Limoncello cream, as the cream needs to be chilled for at least 12 hours.
Bring the double cream, glucose and vanilla seeds to boil and melt the chocolate separately. Remove it from the heat and slowly, one spoon at a time, combine the chocolate with the hot cream. At the end, pour in the liqueur, stir thoroughly and place in a fridge for 12 hours (or overnight) .

Day 2

Remove the dough from the fridge and, working on a cold surface without dusting with flour, roll using your hand only a few long ropes 1 cm or less in diameter, making only one at a time (the rest of the dough should remain covered). 
Dust with flour and cut the rope into small pieces, about 3mm long. Set aside covered in flour, while you work with the rest of the dough.
Heath the oil in a deep pan to 180C. Sift the dough piece to get rid of the excess flour and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until  golden brown. Leave to drain on absorbent paper. Make sure that you toss the dough pieces while frying from time to time, as the process produces a large amount of foam that tends to escape the pan.
Once the Struffoli are at room temperature, add limoncello cream, mix and put into a mould of your choice. Leave to set for couple of hours and then start nibbling!   

Recipe adapted from "The new Pattissiers" by Thames and Hudson

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