Zeppoles with Orange Pastry Cream

Zeppoles with Orange Pastry Cream

For Italian and Sicilian Americans, the Feast of St. Joseph is marked with prayer and the construction of food-laden altars. These elaborate structures typically contain a statue of St. Joseph and votive candles at its head, flanked by copious amounts of cookies, cakes, and breads (which are traditionally donated to those in need). Zeppoles, fried pastries that are dusted with confectioners’ sugar or filled with sweet cream, are also part of the festivities.

We can’t overstate this: high-quality maraschino cherries will make a world of difference in this traditional Italian pastry.

Zeppoles with Orange Pastry Cream
Makes 10
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Orange Pastry Cream, recipe follows
  • Garnish: maraschino cherries*, candied orange peel, confectioners’ sugar
Orange Pastry Cream
  • 2¼ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a marker and a 2¾-inch round cutter, trace 10 circles onto parchment; turn parchment over.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add 1 cup water, granulated sugar, cardamom, and salt; bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until a skin forms on bottom of pan, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at low speed until dough is warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined after each addition.
  4. Transfer batter to an 18-inch pastry bag fitted with a medium open star piping tip (Ateco #824). Hold tip about ¾ inch above parchment paper and starting at center of each circle, slowly pipe concentric circles of dough outward until each traced circle is filled. Pipe 1 extra layer onto perimeters to form a rim around edge of each circle. Repeat with remaining batter.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate pan, and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  6. Cut pastries in half. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium open star tip with Orange Pastry Cream. Place piping tip into hole and apply gentle pressure to fill. Repeat with remaining pastries. Top with pastry halves, and pipe cream into hole. Garnish with cherries, orange peel, and confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Best served same day.
Orange Pastry Cream
  1. In a large saucepan, whisk together milk, ½ cup sugar, vanilla bean and reserved seeds; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming. (Do not boil.) Discard vanilla bean.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, salt, and remaining ½ cup sugar. Gradually add warm milk mixture, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and mixture starts to boil. Cook, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another large bowl. Stir in butter and orange zest, stirring until butter melts. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly onto surface of pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely cool.
*We used Tillen Farms Bada Bing Cherries.



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