One of my favorite things we made at the CIA were zeppoles, deep-fried Italian dough balls sweetened with ricotta cheese. We made all kinds of fancy, too-beautiful-to-eat concoctions at CIA but my favorites tended to be the simple, humble-looking yet tasty foods. Basque Cake filled with Pastry Cream is a top favorite. Zeppoles are a close second. I rarely make zeppoles because a) deep-fried anything should only be eaten in moderation and b) they're so good that moderation sucks.
But I was having my cousins, their significant others and their kids over for a dessert get together this afternoon so it seemed like the perfect time to make zeppoles. By sheer "I learned to share in kindergarten" mantra, that meant I couldn't hog the whole batch to myself and had to share with others. Okay, I can do that. Even though they're hard to resist. The outside is crisp crunchy and the inside is soft and chewy, almost like a sweet cakey bread. You can fill them with anything but I prefer them plain so nothing interferes with the taste of sheer fried goodness. Zeppoles are best served warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar (like beignets) shortly after frying. I had to refrain from "accidentally" frying them all too soon before my guests arrived. That sharing thing again. Although I don't deny I answered the door dusting powdered sugar off of myself.
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Sift together the dry ingredients.
2. Gently beat ricotta cheese with vanilla and milk. Add dry ingredients. If batter still seems a little dry, add a little milk until batter is slightly firmer than the consistency of the ricotta cheese and there's no more loose flour. Do not overmix.
3. Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil (350˚F). Fry 3-4 minutes (they should flip by themselves) until golden brown.
4. Drain on paper towels, then sprinkle with powdered sugar while still hot.