How do you know when it's time to celebrate the sanctity of St. Joseph, foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ and most chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
When le zeppole
appears in Italian pastry shop windows of course!
This year the feast of St. Joseph crept up on me and caught me unprepared - I could use the transference of his feast day to the 15th (instead of the 19th) as an excuse, but I won't. Instead, I'll blame it on the fact that fate has left me thousands of miles away from any Italian pastry shops and their windows. :)
So, yesterday, at Mass I suddenly realized that la festa di San Giuseppe
was upon us... and that I was craving le zeppole
! What's a girl in the wrong latitude and longitude to do? Make some!
The first question was what to make - there are lots of different varieties, from the fried donut kind to the cream puff kind that I saw a lot in Rome. An added problem is that most of the recipes are in italiano
and are geared for centigrade stove temperatures... I didn't have the energy to translate a whole recipe or to try to do a proper conversion. That limited my choices significantly. And, while I guess the most traditional and common type of le zeppole
is the fried donut, I am without a deep fryer and had no desire to deep fry in a skillet today. Thus, in the end I opted to go for the cream puff kind (with raspberries, because the typical cherry on top is out of season in Minnesota in March, for some reason!).
So, after finding my recipe this afternoon I: looked at the ingredient list, gasped at the amount of calories involved, went grocery shopping, made the check-out clerk gasp at the amount of calories involved, came home, used three different pans which made three different consistencies of pastry puffs (oops), whipped up heavy cream for the first time (and got cream spots on everything in a three mile radius), made my roommates gasp at the amount of calories involved, folded heavy cream into instant pudding for the first time, spilled folded cream & pudding mix all over the kitchen floor, improvised a ziplock baggie into a frosting squeezer for the first time (a lot of firsts today!), realized I still need practice at getting whipped cream the right thickness as I watched it ooze over everything without leaving a lot on the actual pastries, got powdered sugar EVERYWHERE, realized once again just how spectactular fresh raspberries are (Mmmmmmmmm!), had problems getting the pesky little pastries to look "right", made our guest gasp at the amount of calories involved, and finally... ate one. And it was very good.
Ta-da! I present to you, Le Zeppole di San Giuseppe (alà Mary :)
There's definitely room for improvement... the consistency and flavor of the filling isn't QUITE right. The instant pudding part is going to have to go, though I shudder to think of the effort involved in making real crema
(or whatever you call what goes into the real thing). And I really need to learn what exactly "stiff peaks" means when whipping up heavy cream, I think that could be a bit thicker. But all in all, a good start I'd say and quite tasty in itself.
Next problem: I need to figure out what to do with a ton of leftover crema
! For the amount of puffs that this recipe made, the amount of crema
produced seems to be overkill! So if you try this recipe, just keep that in mind... and maybe reduce the ingredients for the filling (unless it's only a matter of knowing how to properly whip cream, in which case... do let me in on the secret!)
Now, I really want to try the more traditional kind. Even if it does mean risking my fingers from having hot oil popping in a frying pan. Perhaps I'll try it on San Giuseppe's "real" day, March 19th, this Wednesday, if I can find a decent recipe. Stay tuned!
Recipe I used for this version of Le Zeppole di San Giuseppe
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sifted flour
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring water and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in all of the flour. Beat vigorously with a spoon until thoroughly blended. Stir over heat 1-3 minutes until mixture comes away from the pan to form a ball. Remove from heat and beat eggs in one at a time. After each addition, beat until batter is well blended and smooth.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool puffs, cut in half and fill with filling.
Almond Cream Filling:
1 package instant French vanilla pudding
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 pint whipping cream
1 pint raspberries
powdered sugar for dusting
Follow directions on package of pudding, substituting almond extract for some of the milk. Let pudding set for 1 hour. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the pudding.
Slice cream puffs in half and fill. Top with some raspberries. Put the top back on and dust with powdered sugar and garnish with raspberries.