I’ve seen zeppole made on my fair share of Food Network programs, but it wasn’t until this past Christmas season that I finally tasted one. My Chief Culinary Consultant’s mom decided to make them a few days after Christmas, remembering how much she loved them when her mom would make them. Zeppole are very much an Italian tradition; they’re a doughnut-like pastry that are traditionally eaten during St. Joseph’s Day celebrations every March 19th. Since today is my Chief Culinary Consultant’s saint’s day and he loved them so much when his mom made them, I decided to fry up a batch of zeppole to celebrate!
I didn’t have the recipe that my CCC’s mom used, so I did some digging and found a recipe that included not only ricotta cheese (which her’s had), but also mascarpone cheese. I couldn’t believe how easy these little doughnuts were to make. It takes five minutes to mix together the batter, then just scoop and fry! They are sweet, heavenly doughnuts that have a light, crisp texture on the outside with a soft, chewy inside.
I was incredibly happy with how these turned out; I encourage you to make these, even if it’s not March 19th!
Zeppole are sweet doughnuts that often include ricotta cheese. They're popular in Italy, especially on March 19th, which is St. Joseph's Day.
2 to 3 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for dusting prior to serving
1. Fill a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with at least 2 inches of vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Heat the oil to 300 degrees F.
2. While you wait for the oil to come up to temperature, combine all of the other ingredients (except the powdered sugar) in a small saucepan over very low heat. Whisk together the ingredients until a smooth batter forms. Turn the heat off and let the batter rest until the oil is ready. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and set aside.
3. Once the oil reaches 300 degrees F, use a medium cookie scoop to scoop the batter and drop into the oil. Don't overcrowd the pot, ensuring that each zeppole has enough space to fry. Once the bottom side is golden brown, gently flip the zeppole over and continue frying until the other side is golden brown. This should take anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes total. Remove the zeppole with a slotted spoon or spider strainer and place on the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Allow the oil to return to 300 degrees if the temperature has dropped, and continue frying, using the rest of the batter.
4. Dust the zeppole with powdered sugar and serve warm or at room temperature. The zeppole are best eaten the same day they are made.