Zeppoli are a favorite at Italian street fairs. These light, sweet dough fritters are deep fried with very little soft dough inside. They are rich, both in flavor and calories, but being party food, an occasional treat is good.
By the way, the proper plural for zeppola is zeppol’e‘. The word garnered the “i” in its Americanization.
Historically, the zeppola is a very ancient recipe, dating back to ancient Rome, with traceable roots to biblical foods. Zeppole are the foundation for the French beignet, donuts, funnelcakes, and a myriad of other deep-fried dough recipes found in western cultures.
- 2 Cups water
- 1 Cup unsalted butter
- 1 3/4 Cups flour, sifted
- 10 eggs
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- confectioners' sugar for dusting
- Heat the oil in a deep fryer or wide, deep saucepan to 350 to 375 degrees F. Use a thermometer to make sure the temperature stays in that range. Too hot and they will burn. Too low and they'll be undercooked.
- In another large saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil over medium heat. Add the flour and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes. The mixture should be very dry and come away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool for 5 minutes. Then begin to add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each with a wooden spoon. Continue to beat until the dough is very smooth.
- Drop batter by heaping tablespoons into the oil, a few at a time, without crowding. The zeppole should cook for about 5 minutes getting very brown and crisp. Drain them on paper towels and let them cool a few minutes.
- Sift confectioners sugar over the top and serve.
- Made in smaller pieces, these make a superb dessert served with Nutella or a tasty chocolate and espresso sauce.
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