I'm a little preoccupied lately. Seriously.. I got [this] close to forgetting about a friend's son's birthday party yesterday. So unlike me.
Don't worry, after we scurried through Target and actually found the perfect gift, we were even early.
I made these adorable and seriously eat-way-too-many-like-way-way-way-too-many zeppole almost a month ago now.. I wasn't even really planning on sharing them when I decided to make them, but then they were so beautifully scrumptiously pretty that I just had to take them onto my front porch and photograph them. Yes, they received quite the glamorous treatment out there.
They're really easy to mix up, but as with anything fried, you've got to sort of sit and watch them. But.. BONUS, if you are the one frying, you are the first to bite into one while it's still super warm. They are sort of like doughnut holes, but they are basically a choux pastry, which makes them a lot more like a fried cream puff. Mmmmmmm. I mixed in some (very ripe) pears and it was sweetly divine. They are good without the fruit as well or you could substitute apples.
Pear Zeppole with Caramel-Swirled Whipped Cream
A couple of notes:
A heavy-bottomed pan is preferable, but a regular medium-sized saucepan worked well.
This dough will stay good covered in your refrigerator for a couple of days, so feel free to fry a batch and then save your oil and your dough for the next day.
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar, + 3 Tablespoons
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt (I use Kosher, always)
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 very ripe pear, peeled & diced
vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar
as much caramel as you want to swirl in (I used homemade)
(Mix, beat or blend (I used an immersion blender) to make whipped cream)
1. Pour vegetable oil into a heavy-bottomed pan. You'll need at least 2 inches deep, though 4-6 is more preferable.
2. Start heating your oil over slightly lower than medium heat. It will be warm enough when you start to hear it crackle. It absolutely should NOT boil. You can use a deep-fry thermometer to reach about 350 degrees, but I don't find it completely necessary.
3. While your oil heats, in a separate pan combine butter, salt, 3 Tbsp. sugar and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add your flour. Add back to heat and mix flour in continuously until a dough ball forms. Transfer to a bowl.
4. Using a mixer, add eggs one at a time. Make sure to beat quickly and continuously as to not scramble your eggs with the heat of the dough. Beat until smooth. Fold in your diced pears.
5. Using two small spoons, fry your dough. Scoop about a teaspoonfull of dough in one spoon. Using your other spoon, remove the dough from the spoon and with the first spoon again, gently plop your dough into your hot oil. Be careful and don't worry about perfection here!
6. Fry your zeppole for 3-5 minutes. Only add about 5-6 to a medium-sized saucepan at a time so as to not overcrowd (and lower the temperature) of your oil. The pears have natural sugar so they will seem to get dark pretty quickly. As your oil sits, each batch will take a bit less time. If your first batch seems doughy in the center, increase your frying time a bit.