Sunday, January 12, 2014

Carmela Soprano's Sfingi (St. Joseph's Day Zeppole)

Salads are great.
They leave plenty of room for desserts.
To my way of thinking, it all balances out in the end.

I’ve noticed that people have searched for traditional recipes at a variety of times.
I’ve seen people look for fruitcake recipes in the spring.
Maybe they just like to plan ahead.

If you’re in the mood for a doughnut - or just want to get ready for the feast 
of St. Joseph on March 19 - here’s the recipe for Carmela’s Sfingi from Entertaining with The Sopranos.  It is also called St. Joseph's Day Zeppole.

Sfingi has a lot of Mediterranean mojo attached to it.
As Carmela explained: 
If it is not St. Joseph's Day, you can just shake these, without the filling, 
in a bag with cinnamon sugar and serve them like donuts.

If there's someone in the crowd who is lactose intolerant, Bobby's recipe for Zeppole in his chapter If I Couldn't Eat, I'd F**king Die in Artie Bucco's The Sopranos Family Cookbook is also good.
Or you can just serve them as unfilled donuts.


If you don't have a deep-frying thermometer, test the oil by slipping a bit of the dough into the oil.  It should sizzle and turn brown in 1 minute.


Makes 12

For the Filling

In a medium bowl whisk together until smooth
15 ounces ricotta
3/4 Cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir in
1/4 Cup mini chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon finely chopped candied citron or orange peel
Cover and refrigerate overnight.

For the Sfingi

In a medium saucepan place
1 Cup water
1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Cook until the butter melts.
Remove from heat.

Add all at once
1 Cup flour
Stir well until the flour is completely mixed in.

Return the saucepan to the medium heat.
Cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, until the dough
begins to leave a thin film on the bottom of the pan.
(Don’t rush this - you want the dough to dry so the puffs will be crisp.)
Scrape the dough into a large bowl.

With an electric mixer or wooden spoon, beat in
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Continue to beat until smooth and shiny, about 2 minutes.

In a deep saucepan or deep fryer pour
about 3 inches vegetable oil
Heat to 375º on a deep-fry thermometer or test with dough.

With a tablespoon, scoop a rounded spoonful of batter.
With another spoon, carefully scrape the dough into the hot oil.
Be careful that it doesn’t splash.
Continue to add spoonfuls of dough.
The dough will puff up, so don’t add too much.
Don't crowd or they will stick together and won't fry properly.

Cook, stirring a couple of times, about 4 minutes,
until the balls break open.
Continue to cook another 2 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.

Remove the sfingi with a slotted spoon.
Drain on paper towels.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
Let cool slightly.

With a small knife, split the sfingi partway open.
Spoon the Ricotta Cream Filling into the puffs, allowing a bit to show in the split.
Press into the cream of each
a halved candied cherry (12 halves)
Place on a platter.
Sprinkle the sfingi with 
2 Tablespoons chopped unsalted pistachios
Dust with 
Confectioners’ sugar

If filled, they are best served right after they are made.

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