Zeppole DI San Giuseppe St. Joseph's Day Cream Puffs

Mom's Favorite Cream Puff Recipe
ZEPPOLE

Zeppole are special fritters, fried doughs, or donuts, made in expectation of the Feast of St. Joseph that falls on March the 19th. They are one of the numerous recipes of the Neapolitan tradition. There are several  recipes that varies by years past and present. Here are a few we have made and loved through the years in the family.

San Guiseppe is the day for zeppole. The pastry shops and friggitorie (fried food stands) churn them out in astonishing quantity, for eating Zeppole on the 19th is another of those traditions in Italy that must be observed. Despite their size everyone eats at least two or three, or even four, because the sweet, delicate pasta bigné, flavored with a hint of cream and one or two bits of candied cherry, is so good and a creamy delight.
The current, refined version of zeppole became a tradition quite late, perhaps towards the end of the 19th century. Among the [older] cookbooks  called  "Tortanetti di pasta bigné" (1865); the zeppole for San Giuseppe are instead made from a flour-and-water dough that's fried, and dusted with sugar and powdered cinnamon or dipped in honey. It's known that this traditional version was quite ancient. It's also known that on March 19th they were made by the ton in pastry shop and frying stall, as well as at home, and that they were offered to guests and whoever else happened to come by and you were really especially lucky to  celebrate  that day if you were named Giuseppe (Joseph).

Zeppole DI San Giuseppe (St. Joseph's Day Cream Puffs)

 Mom's Version (Bari Style) Creamy
1 cup water
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Beat eggs in bowl set aside. Measure 1 cup flour and set aside.
In a heavy non stick saucepan, pour 1 cup water and a stick of butter (not margarine) add zests and bring to a boil on medium heat, leave on heat and add flour stirring quickly with a wooden spoon until flour is dissolved and comes together.
Remove from heat, add eggs and beat very rapidly with the wooden spoon until a ball of dough if formed...Note its very important to beat this fast.
Spoon one tablespoon of dough or teaspoon for small puffs on an ungreased cookie sheet. Shape into logs for eclairs or round for cream puffs. Bake on 400 for 1/2 hour, do not open oven or puffs will not cook correctly. When browned remove from oven, cool, cut in half to fill.
You can fill with puffs whipped cream, Italian pastry creme, vanilla pudding. Eclairs also will have chocolate frosting on top filled with vanilla pudding
Remove to rack and cool completely. Cut slit in side of each puff and fill with below filling or sweetened whipped cream:


Ricotta Filling
3 cups Ricotta cheese
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients except chips and beat with electric mixer about 10 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.

Cafe  Cream Style filling:
 4 large egg yolks
 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
 pinch of sea salt
2 cups  whole milk

1/2 tsp almond extract
2/3 cup Ricotta cheese whole milk
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

 In a small heavy weight saucepan, beat the yolks, sugar, salt and flour all at once until all lumps are gone. Slowly add  milk and whisk to make a smooth consistency. Heat slowly over medium heat till this mixture thickens stirring constantly.

 At the very start, whisk slowly and then a little quicker as the cream starts feeling thicker. Wait for a simmering boil to appear. At this point lower the heat to very low as you finish getting the perfect cream consistency. As the whisk leaves a trail as it stirs, this is the indication that the cream is ready. When the pudding has thickened remove from stove and cover with wax paper not to form a skin. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

Ricotta
In a bowl add ricotta, sugar and almond flavoring, stir till completely mixed. Fold in pudding. Fill cream puffs. Keep refrigerated. These also look nice with a mixture of powdered sugar and water glaze with a cherry on top.

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