San Giuseppe (March 19) is a feast day in Italy celebrating all the Giuseppes, Joes, Joeys, Peppes, Beppes, Giuseppinas, Pinas, Giusis and any other diminutive of the name . It also happens to be father’s day in Italy.
Since my name is Pina, San Giuseppe is also my feast day (see my personal connection to the day here).
When I was growing up, my mom would always do something special for me for San Giuseppe like buy pastries from an Italian bakery here in Vancouver. This year, I knew I wanted to keep this tradition going even though I don’t live with my mom anymore. So I decided to make the traditional zeppole di San Giuseppe.
You can find them in Italy only at this time of the year since they’re specific to this feast day. I had never made them before, so I set off to find the perfect recipe. I kept coming across the very traditional recipe of a fried (sometimes baked) fritter with pastry cream on top.
Then I saw it. Saveur Mag’s zeppole di San Giuseppe recipe. Instead of the recipe I had already seen many times prior, this one was made with ricotta cream. And for those of you that know me well, I have a love affair with ricotta. I’ve never met a ricotta recipe I didn’t like. I’ll take ricotta with anything. Sweet, savoury, in cannoli, in pasta, whipped, or just straight out of the basket with a spoon.
I knew I had to make this recipe!
I served the zeppole at a friend’s get together that we hosted recently and everyone loved them. Even a friend of mine who eats gluten free and dairy free (which these are definitely not!) had one. She said that these were worth “cheating” for. That’s how you know they’re good.
So on March 19, make these zeppole for the Giuseppe, Joe, Josie, Pina, Beppe (you get the idea) in your life. You’ll be their favorite person. And if you don’t have a Giuseppina, Joey, Peppe…in your life? Just make them anyway! You’ll be glad you did 🙂
- 2 tsp. sugar plus one cup
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. rum
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups flour
- 5 eggs
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- Grapeseed oil, for frying
- Amarena cherries, to garnish (I bought mine at Cioffi's in Vancouver)
- 1 lb ricotta - if it's quite liquid in consistency, drain it in a cheesecloth-lined strainer
- 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1. Bring 2 tsp. sugar, milk, butter, rum, and salt to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat.
- 2. Add flour; stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until dough begins to dry, 2–3 minutes.
- 3. Transfer dough to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle and beat on medium-high speed.
- 4. Add eggs one at a time, until each is incorporated fully; dough should be smooth and hold peaks when lifted from paddle.
- 5. Transfer dough to piping bag fitted with ½″ star tip, and pipe 2½″-diameter circles onto parchment paper. Using scissors, cut out paper around each zeppola; set aside.
- 6. In a small bowl, combine remaining sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
- 1. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, combine ricotta, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and lemon zest beat until smooth, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to piping bag fitted with a ½″ star tip; set aside.
- 1. Pour oil into a 6-qt. Dutch oven to a depth of 2″; heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Working in batches, invert zeppole into oil. The paper will separate from the zeppole with the heat of the oil. Remove paper with tongs and continue frying, turning once, until puffed and light brown, 3–4 minutes.
- 2. Remove zeppole from oil and set on paper towels to drain briefly.
- 3. Transfer to bowl of cinnamon sugar, toss to coat evenly, and then transfer to a serving plate. 4. Pipe about 1 heaping tbsp. ricotta filling into center of each zeppola and top with amarena cherry. Serve immediately.