When I was younger, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve were usually spent in New York at my Grandparent’s house. Being an Italian family, nobody was left hungry, and the spread my Grandmother put on rivalled that of any teahouse or restaurant.
My Grandmother’s homemade Italian goodies, supplemented by a few choice favourites from the local Italian bakery along with goodies made by my 5 Aunts created a spread that spanned her huge dining room table (and of course, the folding card table that was added to accommodate all the extra guests!).
One of my personal favourite recipes was her homemade Zeppole. These are a sweet Italian treat, made with Ricotta cheese & flour, and then deep-fried and sprinkled with icing sugar. The Ricotta adds protein to this melt-in-your-mouth dessert, and they’re easily made gluten-free.
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1 cup gluten-free flour
Mix well, and drop by teaspoon into hot oil until golden. Cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar. (If you want a slightly sweeter flavor, you can add 2 tsp of sugar to the mixture).
Simple, right? You can also bake these if you’re trying to avoid all the oil. Here are the instructions:
Preheat oven to 400
Mix ingredients as above, then spoon onto parchment-lined baking sheet
Bake 30-40 minutes, leave oven door open for last 5 minutes
Cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar
The fry method was the traditional method my Grandmother used, and her recipe was quite simple – there are other ways to make Zeppole, such as piping your mixture into a 3″ nest shape using a star tip tool or other tip (you can try using a large round tip instead if you prefer!), then following baking instructions above; sprinkle with icing sugar, then add lemon cream to the center of the nests after they have cooled off, and top with a maraschino cherry.
I personally prefer my Grandmother’s method, and you don’t need a deep-fryer to do it – you can use a large pot to heat up the oil, but be very careful to watch the temperature – every oil has a different flash-point, so look up the recommended temperature before you choose your oil. These used to be fried in lard, but my Grandmother used vegetable oil.
Have you ever heard of or tried these Italian treats? Tell us about your memories of Zeppole in the comments below!
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!