zeppole di San Giuseppe

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

(makes about 12)

recipe from Kathy of Food Lover's Odyssey

Notes: This made more than 12 zeppole for me, (more like 16) but I think mine were smaller than Kathy's of Food Lover's Odyssey. I also had a lot of pastry cream and chocolate ganache left over -- not a bad thing in my book.  I started out frying the zeppole, but couldn't get it right and they were too greasy, so I switched to baking them - in a 425 degree preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. That worked much better.

For the dough (choux paste):

1 ½ cups (350 ml) water

6 tablespoons (80 grams) butter, cubed

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 1/3 (180 grams) cup all-purpose flour

5 eggs

6 to 8 cups of peanut oil for frying

For the pastry cream:

3 ¼ cups (750 ml) whole milk

Rind of one lemon (only the rind, not the pith)

8 egg yolks

2/3 cup (160 grams) granulated sugar

Scan 1/2 cup (50 grams) cornstarch

3 1/2 tablespoons (25 grams) all purpose flour

4 tablespoons (55 grams) butter, cubed

For the chocolate ganache:

4 1/2 ounces (150 grams) dark couveture chocolate, finely chopped

2/3 cup (150 ml) heavy cream

To make the choux paste:  In a saucepan, bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a rolling boil. (It's important that the butter is in small cubes, so it melts and combines with the water before the mixture comes to a boil.)  Add the flour all at once, and remove from the heat.  Stir until all the flour is combined.  Place back the mixture back on the stove and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes to dry out the mixture.  Remove from the heat and, after allowing the mixture to cool for 10 minutes, add the eggs one at a time.  Stir in each egg completely before adding the next.

In a deep pot, heat the oil to 360° F (180° C).  Place the choux paste into a piping bag attached with a 14mm star tip (the tip opening should be about 1/2 inch in diameter).  Cut 4X4-inch squares of parchment paper.  Pipe the choux paste onto the parchment paper, making rings that are little smaller than the paper, 3 1/2 inches in diameter.  (I actually piped little "snails" filling the center, but it wasn't necessary as the dough rises quite a bit as it fries, leaving only a small hole in the center.)  Place the choux paste and parchment paper into the oil.  Once the dough starts frying, the paper will fall away easily; then remove it from the pan.  Fry the zeppole about 4 minutes on each side. Depending on the pan size, fry only 2 or 3 zeppole at a time, so you don't lower the temperature of the oil.  Once the zeppole are cooked through, place on paper towels to drain.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar once they've cooled slightly.

To make the pastry cream:  Place the milk and the lemon rind in a nonreactive heavy bottom sauce pot and leave for 20 minutes.  Then bring the milk to a scald.  Let the lemon rind steep in the milk for 10 minutes.  In the meantime, in another bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture becomes pale.  (The whisk must be nonreactive also.) Add the cornstarch and flour and whisk to combine.

Strain the lemon rind out of the milk, and slowly pour the warmed milk into the egg yolk mixture.  Whisking together as you pour.  Once all the milk and egg yolk mixtures are combined, place back into the saucepot and over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, whisking vigorously the entire time.  Once the mixture has boiled, cook for another 2 minutes, again stirring the entiring time.  Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh seive.  Add the butter to the top of the pastry cream, stirring in once the butter has melted. Place the bowl into an ice bath and let cool for 10 minutes.  Spread the pastry cream into a 9x13-inch glass dish and cover with plastic wrap.  The plastic wrap should be touching the pastry cream to keep the cream from developing a film.  Refrigerate until cold.

To make the chocolate ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl.  In a sauce pot, heat the cream just until it's scalding (little bubbles appear around the rim).  Pour the cream over the chocolate.  Let the mixture rest for a minute, then slowly whisk together.  To create a smooth ganache, place the whisk in the center of the mixture and whisk in a small, slow, circular motion until the chocolate and cream combine.  Let the ganache cool and thicken just to the point that it will hold its form when it's piped.

 To assemble the zeppole:  Place the pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a 12mm star tip.  Into the center of each zeppole, pipe the pastry cream.  I piped a generous two "snail-shaped" circles of pastry cream, one on top of the other.  Place the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a 10mm star tip.  Pipe a small ring of ganache on the top center of each zeppole.  They are best minutes after they've been garnished, and should be eaten the day they've been made.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  To make the Neapolitan version, with a cherry topping instead of the chocolate one, you need a jar of amarena cherries, or another type of sour cherries, in syrup.  Drain some of the syrup from the cherries, and top each zeppole with one cherry.