Zeppole di San Giuseppe

This pastry is made on March 19th. to celebrate Italian Father’s Day. The zeppole dough is similar to the choux pastry used in cream puffs, profiteroles, and eclairs. They can be baked or fried. The classic version is filled with a lemon flavored pastry cream but nowadays you can find them in Italian bakeries with many other flavors: pistachio, chocolate, strawberries, etc.

You can check a step by step video here

Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 5 egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Zest of 1 lemon, grated 
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Zeppole Dough

  • 1 cup water 
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Amarena cherries

To make the pastry cream, warm the milk and lemon zest in a saucepan until simmer. Do not let it boil.

Whisk the yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl until the mixture is thick and golden. Add the cornstarch slowly and continue mixing until everything is incorporated. Slowly add the warm milk (little by little), mixing continuously. Transfer the contents of the bowl back to a saucepan. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Mix in the butter. Cool the cream quickly by placing the bowl in an ice bath. cover with parchment paper to avoid forming a crust on the top of the cream and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Cool completely in the refrigerator.

To make the zeppole dough, in a medium sized pot, place the water, lemon zest and butter, and heat until boiling. Add the flour all at once, and mix well over the heat for few minutes, or until the mixture dries and begins to pull away from the pan. This may take anywhere from two to five minutes. Remove from the heat, and pour the paste into a mixing bowl to cool it down. Beat in the eggs, one at the time until the mixture comes together. Place the dough in large piping bag fitted with a large round tip, then start piping out little nests about 2-1/2 inches wide a few inches apart from each other.

If you are baking the zeppole, preheat the oven to 400 F. Bake them for about 40 minutes or until deeply golden brown, allow to cool before filling the center with the pastry cream and top with a maraschino or amarena cherry.

If you are frying the pastry, pipe out the nest (same size as listed above) on small pieces of parchment paper, fry a few at a time in hot vegetable oil (350 degrees) the parchment paper will peel away instantly as they hit the hot oil so remove them as soon as you can. Fry them for a few minutes or until deeply golden brown on both sides then drain them on a paper towel lined platter.

Cut the zeppole in half, fill them with the pastry cream, top with a cherry and sprinkle a little powder sugar over the top.