Zeppole di San Giuseppe

March is a great month to visit Italy. Springtime weather starts to take hold in most of the country and often means rain, and in some places it can be quite cold but as you go south, the temperature goes up and the rain decreases. The second half of March is when it often feels like spring has arrived and it’s not uncommon for late March weather to be warm and sunny. Of course, you’ll still see women in fur coats throughout the country because Italian wardrobes are based on the calendar and not the actual weather outside. It seems as if there’s always something being celebrated in Italy. The March calendar has a few notable holidays and festivals worth paying attention to and there are fun events taking place in all corners of the nation. You know that Italians have special food for every special day and celebration right? March 19, the Feast Day of San Giuseppe is no exception. Also known as Father’s Day in Italy and dedicated to St. Joseph. The day is traditionally celebrated with bonfires and sometimes pageants with scenes from the life of Saint Joseph, Mary’s husband. St. Joseph, who is the patron saint of the family, is celebrated at the Spring equinox and his day is a feast of bread.  It is celebrated with families gathering together to create enormous buffets for neighbors and friends. The tables overflow with an abundance of food that the Father of the Holy Family provides. The dishes served are always meatless – from fried croquettes of fish, sardines, calamari, and shrimp to pasta with anchovies and breadcrumbs, stuffed artichokes, spring vegetable frittatas, fava bean soup or minestrone. But the highlight of the meal is the special sweets that are prepared. I’d like to introduce you to a treat that’s made especially for St. Joseph’s Feast Day. They are named after him: Zeppole di San Giuseppe. They are made from a very slightly sweetened choux pastry. Filled and topped with pastry cream, dusted with powdered sugar and crowned with a syrupy Italian cherry. Nothing super fancy, and overall, quite simple to make.
Zeppole di San Giuseppe
Serves: 16
Ingredients for pastry
2½ cup (4 oz) butter
21 ½ teaspoons of sugar
21 cup water
21 cup (5 oz) flour
24 eggs at room temperature
2⅔ cup (200 ml) milk at room temperature
22 egg yolks
2½ cup plus 1 tbsp (5 oz) sugar
22 ¼ tbsp potato starch
2pinch of salt
21 tsp vanilla extract
2powdered sugar to sprinkle
2Fabbri cherries, these are the most authentic topping
1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
2. First prepare the choux pastry, by placing the butter, sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, until it comes to a rolling boil. Add the flour, all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for about a minute until the mixture forms a ball.
3. Remove from heat, add an egg, and beat well, until well incorporated, before adding the next egg. Repeat with remaining eggs, until. the batter is smooth and satiny.
4. Place in piping bag or spoon onto a baking tray lined with a silicone sheet or parchment paper into small puffs, about 3″ apart. Pipe the upper part of the pastry so there is a small hole in the center, or make one with the back of a teaspoon.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes. Turn off oven, and leave for 10 minutes, then place on cooling rack.
6. While the cream puffs are baking, make the crema pasticciera. Place the egg yolks, sugar, potato starch, salt and vanilla into a pot and whisk together. Begin pouring in the warm milk, then turn the burner on a low heat. Continue whisking and pouring, and gradually increase the heat. Cook until the mixture thickens and is cooked (it will be a few minutes.)
7. Make a hole with a skewer, into the side of the choux pastry and fill with pastry cream using a piping bag. Pipe more filling into the indentation on top and dust with powdered sugar.
8. Top with a cherry, or whatever you want to use.



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