March 19 marks the Feast of St. Joseph. This day is widely celebrated by Catholic Italians not only in Italy but in many other parts of the world. In Sicily, St. Joseph is regarded as their patron saint. It is said that in the Middle Ages, during a severe drought, the people prayed to St. Joseph for rain. Their prayers were answered preventing a famine. To give thanks to St. Joseph, they would prepare a large feast to honour him.
The fava bean survived during the drought and saved people from starvation so it is considered a symbol of luck and fava bean dishes are part of the traditional St. Joseph’s day fare.
Zeppole is the most famous dessert enjoyed on this day. It is a pastry shell, deep fried or baked, and filled with either a ricotta filling or pastry cream. A good sprinkling of icing sugar completes this delicious dessert.
Nonna Paola and Nonna Anna teamed up to give us their version of Zeppole di San Giuseppe.
- 7 large egg yolks
- 10 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 1/2 cups homogenized milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 7 tablespoons all purpose flour
- Cool Whip (qty as desired)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- Using an electric mixer, beat together the egg yolks, sugar, milk and vanilla until blended well. Then add the flour and continue to beat lightly until all incorporated.
- Transfer the mixture to a heavy bottom sauce pan and over medium low heat, while stirring constantly, cook the mixture until thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
- Transfer to a glass bowl, cover the entire surface of the cream with food safe plastic wrap, let cool to room temperature then refrigerate.
- Just before using, remove from the refrigerator, add a few tablespoonfuls of Cool Whip and gently mix to combine. Be sure not to make the cream too runny though.
- Now it is ready to use.
- In a large heavy bottom pot, add the water, butter, salt, and sugar and bring the mixture to a boil. Then add the flour all at once. Reduce the temperature to medium and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl of electric mixer.
- Let the dough cool slightly, and while on medium low speed, add the eggs one at a time and mix to blend in between additions. Do not over beat. The dough should be glossy when it is done.
- Onto a parchment paper lined pan, with a piping bag (we used a Wilton 6B tip), pipe a circular base of dough (filled in circle) about 2 1/2 inches in diameter then pipe a ring of dough on top of the outside part of the circle leaving the centre open to form a well for the filling.
- Bake them at 375F for 45 minutes or until well coloured.
- Remove them to a cookie rack to cool.
- Once completely cooled, pipe them full of venetian cream and sprinkle with icing sugar.