People named Giuseppe are especially lucky here in Italy. On the day of San Giuseppe, their onomastico (saint name day) is enthusiastically celebrated throughout Italy. So auguri to all the Giuseppe, Peppe, Peppino, Beppe, Joseph, and Joe!
San Giuseppe also is the name of these festive zeppole. Pastry shops and local friggitorie – typical deep-fried food stands – churn them at an astonishing rhythm: that's because eating zeppole on March 19th is another one of those traditions that must be observed.
The dough for Zeppole di San Giuseppe is prepared similarly to that for choux, also known locally as bigné. The main difference lies in the zeppole's lower butter content (healthier) and the cooking procedure: while bigné are baked in the oven, zeppole are instead deep-fried (action which nullifies previously attained health benefit). But why worry about calories? It's Father's Day. time to celebrate.
As promised, here's the recipe, Rosaria.
For the zeppole (yields about a dozen):
200 g (1 cup) all purpose flour, sifted
200 ml (1 cup) water
4 medium eggs
1/2 tsp cornstarch
100 g (1/2) butter, softened
For the creamy filling:
4 leveled tbsp flour, sifted
The rind or 1 small, organic lemon, closely trimmed of white pith
150 gr (3/4-cup) sugar
A vanilla bean (slit open lengthwise and scraped), or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
The yolks of 4 very fresh eggs
500 ml (2 cups) whole milk
2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
A handful of Amarene (sour cherries stored in syrup)
The first thing you should prepare is the custard, crema pasticcera. Boil the milk with the vanilla and the lemon peel.
In the meantime, lightly whisk the yolks and the sugar in a large mixing bowl to obtain a frothy mixture. Add the flour and keep stirring with a wooden spoon for roughly 4 minutes. Fish out and remove the vanilla pod (if you're using it) and the lemon rind, and combine with the eggy mixture in a deep saucepan.
Continue cooking the custard over mild heat until it barely reaches a slow boil. Count to 120 while stirring constantly and it's done. Note: depending on your eggs and milk, the crema pasticcera may thicken to the proper consistency before it boils. It should reach a point where it roughly resembles the texture of commercially sold firm yogurt.
Transfer the crema pasticcera to a bowl and let it cool, gently stirring it often to keep a "skin" from forming across the top.
Now onto the zeppole. Set the water, butter and a pinch of salt to heat, and when bubbles form on the bottom of the pot (it shouldn't come to a full boil) add the flour in one single swoop and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes.
Remove from the stove and transfer the mixture to another clean vessel to allow it to cool at room temperature. Stir in the eggs one by one into a smooth, firm and homogeneous dough.
Cut 5-inch squares of parchment or oiled paper, and place on a large work surface.
Stuff the dough in a Ziploc bag and snip off a corner of it, using it as a "sac à poche" pastry chef's pocket. Squeeze out the dough to form 3-inch doughnuts and rest each on the parchment paper squares, keep in the fridge for another 20 minutes.
Frying the zeppole is tricky. Neapolitans insist on this procedure, and I'm reporting it as instructed by an eminent homemaker.
You need 2 separate frying pans on the burners: in one the oil is warm, the other it is piping hot. In the first warm one, the zeppole puff up and detach from the paper, in the second they turn golden and crisp.
I suggest you fry 2 zeppole per pan at a time, removing them as they reach the desired golden hue.
Drain on a paper towel and cool before garnishing: slit them open and slather with your custard, recomposing the "sandwich" on a serving plate. Complete with a dusting of confectioner's sugar and a couple of syrupy amarena sour cherries per fritter. Park on your lap and prepare for ecstasy.
Happy Father's Day, Daddy.
|Image © Sarti del Gusto|