This is a traditional Italian pastry made on March 19 in celebration of the feast of St. Joseph. The traditional filling for these cream puffs is sweetened ricotta, however a vanilla or almond flavored pasticciera (pastry) cream may be used instead. This recipe should make at least 16-20 sfingi.....depending on how small or large you make the circles, you may end up with more or less shells. Note: If you can't find Impastata ricotta (aka pastry or cannoli ricotta), regular ricotta will work well if you drain it well (preferably overnight), and then beat it (or use food processor or blender) until very creamy.
- 1⁄2 cup butter
- 1 pinch salt (1/8 teaspoon)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup pastry flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest (optional)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest (optional)
- 1 lb impastata ricotta (or regular ricotta cheese, well drained)
- 1 teaspoon almond flavoring (or 1 jigger amaretto)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1⁄2-1 cup confectioners' sugar (10x or powdered sugar)
- 1 (28 ounce) can water, packed well drained sour pitted cherries (or well drained, pitted Morello cherries)
- For cream puffs: Combing butter, salt and water in a sauce pan.
- Bring mixture to a boil.
- Add flour all at one time, mixing well by hand (with a wooden spoon), until the dough forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan.
- Remove pan from heat, and let cool a little.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add sugar and grated lemon and orange peels, and mix thoroughly (dough should have a slight gloss or sheen to it).
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Line a large sheet (or jelly roll) pan with parchment.
- Attach a# 4 tip (large star tip) to a pastry bag.
- Fill the pastry bag with the dough, and squeezing the dough through the bag, form donut shaped circles on the parchment, be careful that you do not move the bag too quickly or the dough will be stretched too thin.
- The dough circles should be about 1 inch thick.
- Leave a 2-inch space between each circle.
- Bake at 400F for about 10 minutes, reduce heat to 325F and bake for 30 minutes more or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven, carefully cut a small slit horizontally into the side of each puff, place on a rack to cool.
- When completely cooled, carefully slice each puff in half horizontally (forming a top and a bottom).
- Filling: In a large bowl; cream the drained ricotta well, until very smooth.
- Add flavorings and stir to blend well.
- Add sugar and mix well, filling should be thick (stiff) enough to hold its shape, if it is not, add more sugar.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a# 4 tip (large star tip) with the ricotta mixture.
- Squeeze the filling on to the bottom half of each puff.
- Place cherries on top of the filling (spaced about 1/2 inch apart).
- Replace tops on the puffs, and gently press down just enough to press the cherries part way into the filling.
- Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until serving.
- Sfingi may be lightly dusted with a sprinkle of powdered sugar before serving (optional).
- Note: Sfingi are best served/eaten the day they are made, because once they are filled, the puffs can soften.
- The puffs may be made a day ahead, and filled before serving.
- The filling may be made a day ahead of serving and stored (covered) in the refrigerator.
Why would anyone write a review before making these pastries? "Lokks (sic) good" is not a review; it's an opinion. I've made these and they are delicious. These can also be filled with custard cream.