My Mom gave me Desserts By The Yard for Christmas and I immediately made a note to try Sherry Yard's recipe for Zeppoli (also spelled zeppole). If you've ever been to a street festival in any Little Italy in the United States, you know this lovely treat-- a kind of fried doughnut that is tossed in a paper bag with powdered sugar. When Helen of Tartelette and Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody announced their event Time To Make The Doughtnuts I was thrilled to have an excuse to make a batch.
I used Sherry Yard's basic batter recipe and then divided it into three portions, flavoring one with lemon zest, one with orange zest, and one with chocolate and orange zest. When they were ready my daughters and I settled in to watch a chick flick, each of us with a bag of warm zeppole to munch on.
adapted from Desserts By The Yard, by Sherry Yard
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
'2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups ricotta
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 - 1 cup confectioner's sugar
vegetable oil, for frying
about six brown paper lunch bags
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the ricotta and whisk until smooth. Add the milk, vanilla and nutmeg and combine well. Whisk in the flour and divide into three smaller bowls. Add the lemon zest to one, mixing well. Add 1 teaspoon of the orange zest to the second, mixing well. Add the last teaspoon of orange zest and the cocoa powder to the last bowl and mix well. Cover the three bowls and put them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (you can leave them for up to 4 hours).
Before you start frying the zeppole, set out a baking sheet with a wire rack on top of it for draining. Open and turn down the tops of six brown paper bags.
In large heavy pot heat two inches of oil to 350 F. Carefully spoon tablespoonfuls of batter into the hot oil in batches. Start with the lemon batter, then the orange, and finish with the chocolate-orange. Cook the batches of zeppole for about 2 - 2 1/2 minutes, flipping them over every 30 seconds. Fish them out with a mesh skimmer and let them drain on the rack. Keep cooking the zeppole in batches until you have no batter left.
Divide the zeppole into the brown paper bags and then sprinkle about 1 1/2 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar into each bag. Close up the tops and give them a good shake to coat the zeppole with sugar. Eat warm.