Sfingi or St. Joseph’s Day Zeppole
It's Saint Joseph's Day and time to make Sfingi.
Ricotta Cream Filling
One 15 Ounce Container Ricotta
3/4 Cup Confectioners’ Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Candied Citron Or Orange Peel
1 Cup Water
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Cup Unbleached Flour
4 Large Eggs
Vegetable Oil For Frying
Candied Cherries – Cut In Half For Garnish
2 Tablespoons Chopped Unsalted Pistachios For Garnish (Optional)
In a medium Bowl, whisk the ricotta, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and candied fruit. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
To make the puffs, bring the water, the butter and the kosher salt to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once and stir well with a wooden spoon until the flour is completely incorporated.
Return the saucepan to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly and turning the dough often, until the dough begins to leave a thin film on the bottom of the saucepan (about 3 minutes). This dries the dough so the puffs will be crisp. With a rubber spatula, scrape the dough into a large bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Continue to beat until smooth – about 2 minutes more.
In a deep heavy saucepan or deep fryer, heat about 3 inches of oil until the temperature reaches 375° F on a deep frying thermometer or until a small bit of the dough dropped into the oil sizzles and turns brown in 1 minute. With a tablespoon, scoop up a rounded spoonful of batter and with another spoon; carefully push the dough into the oil so that it doesn’t splash. Continue to add the dough by the spoonful without crowding the pan. The dough will puff up and double in size so do not add too many at one time or they will stick together. Cook, turning them often, until the dough breaks open – about 4 minutes. Continue to cook 1 to 2 minute more or until crisp and golden brown. Remove the fritters with a slotted spoon or skimmer and place them on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining dough. Let cool slightly.
With a small knife, split fritter partway open. Spoon the cream inside, allowing it to show through the split. Press a cherry half into the cream and sprinkle with pistachios (optional). (If it is not St. Joseph’s Day, you can just shake these, without the filling in a bag with confectioners’ sugar and serve like donuts).
Dust the sfingi with confectioners’ sugar. These are best right after they are made. Makes 12
© Victoria Hart Glavin