Ohhh Zeppole... This is how it went.
It was Saturday morning, and a just stunning day at that. Cool and breezy, as it usually is come the autumn, but a rare treat after the ups and downs of heat to rain these past July days. My oldest, Ella, had just returned, the day prior, from weeks away at camp. Oh how I missed her but was so happy she was able to enjoy the time, being a kid after a hard year of growing up too quickly. She and her sister were still resting after a night of giggles, allowed well past bedtime and I was up early, as usual, trying to come up with a special breakfast for my girls.
I had this container of fresh ricotta hanging out in my refrigerator. It was purchased at the farmers market by my husband with no clear intention of what it was going to become. He loves to challenge me like this, and I accept eagerly every time. I truly love ricotta and will snag a spoonful here and there, similarly to how he will grab a spoonful of peanut butter for a quick snack. So it was there and I was pacing the floor for what to make for breakfast. I considered a few ideas when it dawned on me... Zeppole! And I even had my fryer already set up!
I whipped some eggs to pale fluffy, folded in some sifted flour, honey, orange zest, freshly grated nutmeg and some vanilla while my oil heated. Then the moment of truth, I dropped a spoon full of batter in the oil bath and watched. It puffed, turned golden and much to my surprise, self regulated by flipping itself back and forth in the oil, achieving a perfectly even color. I helped some of the others along, but it was so fun to watch!! I fried the rest of the fritters off, hit them with a snowfall of powder sugar and served right away while still warm. Just pillowy clouds of happiness and my girls were thrilled. I also may have gotten a few extra hugs as a result... Oh happy day that started off delicious.
3 large eggs
2 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
½ tbsp baking powder
1 cup whole milk ricotta
2 tbsp honey
Zest of 1 orange
Freshly grated nutmeg, about ¼ tsp
1 tsp vanilla extract
Oil for frying, about 2 quarts
Powdered sugar for serving
In a deep fryer or deep cast iron Dutch oven, 5-quart or larger, preheat oil to 350 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl, add eggs, sugar, and salt. With an electric mixer, blend on high speed until pale, fluffy, and doubled in volume, about 2 minutes.
Sift together flour and baking soda directly to egg mixture. Next add ricotta, honey, orange zest, nutmeg and vanilla. Fold all ingredients together until well blended.
Using a cookie scoop, dispense portions of batter directly into the heated oil, being sure not to overcrowd. Encourage movement by turning fritters, halfway through cooking time, about 3 to 4 minutes each side. Cook until evenly golden brown. Remove from hot oil with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Transfer to a serving dish or platter and generously top with sifted powder sugar. Serve and enjoy right away while still warm.
~Makes approximately two dozen
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