…and get the attention of everybody, including the Housewives. If you are not familiar with the term zeppole (perhaps those from the Jersey Belle cast who are still familliarizing yourselves with cannolis) you surely have had them in some other form. Basically zeppole is fried dough, the same as a funnel cake, or what’s blanketting Oreos, Twinkies, even pats of butter at your local county fair. Is the whole country with me now? Good, let’s get down to business.
Zeppole is the Italian version of this guilty pleasure and the secret ingredient that gives it that doughiness deliciousness is…wait for it..Ricotta cheese. Shocking right? I know I was floored by that, but then again what’s an Italian delicacy without the ricotta? I started making zeppole two years ago after our local Italian festival here left me craving more. At the time I had a friend staying with us and the extra hands on deck made the adventure, and cleanup, less daunting. But I’ve learned that this can be done quite quickly and easily on my own, so long as somebody else is corraling my kids. You do not want them around the hot oil.
Since then this has become one of my go-to recipes to bring to parties because it is easy, quick, yields a lot, and is relatively simple to make. With Labor Day barbecues rights around the corner I dare you to bring this one. It will be a hit!
Zeppole (adapted from AllRecipes.com)
*large container of vegetable oil (2 qts at least)
*1 cup all purpose flour (sorry but white works best…it’s zeppole, don’t even try to make it healthy)
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*Pinch of salt
*1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
*1 cup ricotta cheese
*1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
confectioner’s sugar for dusting or dipping
Fill a large pot (think large spaghetti pot) 1/3 high with oil. Heat over medium heat. It is ready when you drop a test piece of batter in and it fries (If you own a deep fryer heat 2 qts of oil to 375 degrees F or 190 C). Combine dry ingredients in a medium saucepan. Beat the eggs and then stir into the dry ingredients with ricotta and vanilla. Mix over low heat until it is well blended and forms a sticky dough. Carefully drop teaspoons of dough 3-5 at a time and fry until golden brown, turning over if needed (sometimes they will flip on their own). Average frying time is about 4 minutes per zeppole. Finished zeppoles are golden brown. Using tongs, place in paper towel lined casserole or foil pan to drain. Dust with powdered sugar. Let oil cool and dispose of in containers either in the trash or through a municipal oil recycling program. *Do not put oil down your drains! Makes 30-35 zeppole
*Bringing them somewhere? Use a 1/2 lb deli container filled with powdered sugar. Poke holes in the top so people can sprinkle their own or lift off cap and dip!