Chocolate and Orange Zeppole

Chocolate and Orange Zeppole are classic Sicilian-American cookies. They are a popular addition to the annual Feast of St. Joseph.

Chocolate and Orange Zeppole
Serves 6
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  1. 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  2. 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, divided
  3. 1/3 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  4. 1 teaspoon orange zest
  5. 1 cup water
  6. ½ cup unsalted butter, diced
  7. 2 tablespoons sugar
  8. ½ teaspoon salt
  9. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  10. 3 large eggs
  11. Vegetable oil for frying
  1. Line a small bowl with several layers of cheesecloth; add ricotta. Fold cheesecloth over ricotta. Let stand 20 minutes. Discard cheesecloth. Place ricotta in the work bowl of a food processor; add 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar. Process until smooth. Spoon into a large bowl; stir in chocolate and zest. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring 1 cup water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in flour. Cook over medium heat until mixture forms a thick dough, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Spoon into a large bowl; let cool 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating at medium speed with an electric mixer until combined.
  3. In a Dutch oven, pour oil to halfway full. Heat oil over medium-high heat until a candy or deep-fry thermometer registers 360°. Carefully drop dough by tablespoonfuls into hot oil (do not overcrowd pan). Cook until golden brown, turning occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
  4. Cut each zeppole in half, and place about 2 teaspoons ricotta mixture on bottom half. Cover with top of zeppole. Dust with remaining 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately or let stand up to 1 hour.
  1. Tip: Use a 1 tablespoon spring-loaded ice cream scoop to drop dough in oil.
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