Happy Saint Joseph's Day (several days late)! Sorry this post is so late. Part of the reason was that I made the zeppole while Ryan was out of town, and he took his sweet time trying them. After asking him and asking him, he finally tried them. Seriously, who turns down home-made zeppole for 3 days straight?
Anyway, March 19th, Saint Joseph's Day, is a day of feasts and festivals in Italy, and would not be complete without Zeppole for dessert. There are several different ways to make Zeppole, some more complex than others. Some versions, often more popular in New Jersey, are small fried doughnuts or fritters topped with powdered sugar. The zeppole that I grew up eating in Rhode Island were puff pastry filled with a creamy custard and topped with a cherry. Side note: the ultimate place to get a zeppole year round if you are in Rhode Island is Borrelli's Pastry Shop in Coventry. They are absolutely amazing, as is the rest of their selection!
While I'm partial to the Rhode Island style zeppole of my youth, the Jersey version seemed a little easier for my first attempt at making these at home. I'm hoping with this year's batch under my belt I will be confident enough to go for the custard filled zeppole next year. There are a couple of keys to getting a light zeppola that isn't too dense and that cooks all the way through. First, make sure that the oil is not too hot. Otherwise, the outside of the dough will burn before it is cooked all the way through. Each zeppola should take about 3 to 4 minutes to cook. Also, make sure you add the ricotta! That might seem odd, but it really does keep things light and airy. For a topping, I went with powdered sugar, but cinnamon and sugar would be equally delicious. If you're really ambitious, you could even melt some chocolate and dip the zeppole in it. Have fun with it!
Adapted from Allrecipes
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest from 1/2 lemon (or orange)
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for dusting
- Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat.
- In a saucepan over low heat, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, ricotta, vanilla, and zest. Stir until well combined.
- Drop the batter into the oil by the tablespoon. (The batter will be sticky. You can dust your spoons with flour or spray with cooking spray to help to get the batter into the oil in a ball shape. I found it easiest to use two spoons to get the batter into the oil.)
- Fry each zeppole until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. You may need to flip them halfway through if they are not completely submerged on their own.
- Remove from oil and place on a paper towel to drain excess oil. Dust with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar and serve.
Ryan's rating of Zeppole - 4. He said he took off a point for it took so long for him to get to try one. I almost smacked him.