Another favorite dish of Laura Giordano’s from the Zagat Presents: Taste of Puglia event was the zeppoles. I’m a big fan of zeppoles/beignets/whatever slight rendition someone serves up. The nice thing about these ones below is that they are not fried, which gives them a slightly lighter flavor. The black cherry jam worked well since it had a darker, heavier flavor in contrast to the pastry. This recipe has me convinced I just might be able to conquer pastries yet!
Ingredients for the pastries (choux)
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- A pinch of salt
- 2 cups of water
- 3/4 stick of butter
- 6 large eggs
Ingredients for the custard filling
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 cups milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Black cherry jam
In a heavy saucepan, heat the water. Add the butter and the salt and remove from the stove once melted. Add the flour all at once. Beat with a wooden spoon. Return the pan to medium heat and beat the mixture until it becomes sort of a ball. Remove the pan from the heat again. Put the ball in a mixing bowl and add the eggs in one at a time, beating the dough with a wooden spoon or hand mixer. Note – make sure to blend in each egg well before proceeding to add in the next one. Using a pastry bag, squeeze out 1/4 inch puffs about 1/2 inch apart on a cookie sheet. Bake the cream puffs about 15 minutes at 392 degrees and then for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Transfer the cream puffs to cooling racks.
While the beignets (zeppole) are cooling, go ahead and start the custard. In a small bowl, mix the corn starch and sugar for the filing. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until it’s almost boiling. In a mixing bowl combine the 6 eggs with the sugar and the corn starch and gradually add a couple of large spoonfuls of warm milk. When it’s well-blended, pour it into the pot until the mixture reaches the right thickness.
To serve, use a small knife to cut each zeppola in half. Fill each zeppola with some custard, replace the halts and put the zeppola on a serving dish. Add a teaspoon of jam to each zeppola and dust them with confectioner’s sugar.