Makes about 1 1/2 dozen
Every region of Italy makes some form of this fried dough called zeppole. They can be sweet or savory, with goodies embedded in the dough or stuffed after frying. Zeppole are especially prepared for St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th), during Lent, for the Christmas Vigilia (Eve), and on holidays. When sweet, they are usually dusted with powdered sugar and served hot. You can find them in every Little Italy around the United States around the holidays.
- 6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 cups fresh ricotta, drained
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 3 tablespoons Amaretto
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted plus more for dusting
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied lemon peel
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied citron or orange peel
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped bittersweet chocolate or mini chocolate chips
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
Heat vegetable oil in a wide saucepan to 350 degrees F. (The oil should be an inch or two deep).
For the filling: Whisk together the ricotta, mascarpone, Amaretto and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl until smooth. Stir in the candied peel and chocolate. Refrigerate the filling while you make the zeppole.
Combine 1 cup water, the butter, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to melt the butter. While stirring, add the flour and zest all at once. Cook, stirring constantly, until the dough dries out and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat, and add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously to incorporate one before adding the next, until the dough is completely smooth.
Drop a batch of zeppole in 2-tablespoon dollops (a small ice cream scoop is perfect for this) into the oil, making sure you don’t crowd them in the pan, because they will grow in size. Fry the zeppole, turning on all sides, until light and golden brown all over, about 5 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels, and repeat with the remaining dough.
To serve, when cold cut the zeppole in half with a serrated knife and with a pastry bag, pipe the filling onto the bottom half. Cover and dust with additional confectioners’ sugar if desired.