Every once and a while something fried and slightly sweet is required in ones busy life. Italian zeppoli are the perfect recipe; they are easy to toss together and worth every second of effort. I learned to make these from the sweetest elderly man in Italy named Francesco. He made these once a week (on Friday’s) for himself, his wife and his buddy down the lane, Matteo, who came for morning espresso every day. This is his recipe exactly and I am immediately transported back to his country home in Piemonte with every bite.
These are best eaten fresh and warm with a dusting of powdered sugar. The secret is a fresh squeeze of orange juice just before biting in. These delicious morsels are perfectly crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
1/4 Cup White Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Fresh Ricotta
1 tsp Pure Vanilla
1 Tbsp Fresh Orange Zest
Vegetable Oil for Frying
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Use a thermometer to monitor the heat; you want the oil to be about 375 degrees fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer you can test the oil with a wooden spoon. Simply heat the oil and stick the handle end of a wooden spoon in the oil, if tiny bubbles form around it the oil is ready.
In a bowl sift together flour, powder, soda, nutmeg and salt. In a separate small bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Add vanilla and orange zest to the eggs, whisk to combine. Make a well in the flour mix and pour in the egg mixture. Add the ricotta on top and use a wooden spoon to gently combine everything together, don’t overmix, just enough to blend in the flour.
Use two spoons to drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pot as your temperature will drop. I fry about 5 zeppoli at a time. Fry until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each side. Gently remove from hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper.
Wait about 5 minutes to sprinkle with powdered sugar. As noted above I like to reserve the orange that was used for the zest and lightly squeeze a few drops of fresh juice over the zeppoli before I bite in. Best served with a hot coffee or tea.