Zeppole di San Giuseppe are traditional Italian cream filled pastries which are made for the Feast of St Joseph. Use this step by step Zeppole di San Giuseppe recipe for perfect results every time.
Originally published on March 18, 2016.
You know that Italians have particular dishes and recipes for every special day, event, holiday, celebration, etc., right?
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St. Joseph’s Day is no exception. March 19th is dedicated to St. Joseph and you may recall that last year, I posted these delicious rice fritters for the occasion.
While not as well celebrated in the US as St Patrick’s Day, just two days earlier on March 17th, there are still many Italians and descendant who carry on the traditions of food and holidays.
I’m so excited to add these pistachio cream zeppole for you to try! (Directions below.)
This year, I’d like to introduce you to an Italian pastry with cream filling that’s made especially for St. Joseph’s Feast Day. They are named after him: zeppole di San Giuseppe. Giuseppe is Italian for Joseph. Although there will be a zeppole di San Giuseppe recipe that varies from Italian to Italian, they are mostly all very similar. They are usually baked, but some like to fry the dough.
There are Christmas Eve zeppole, too! They are also called frittelle (Italian doughnuts).
However, I will remind you that all of my recipes are honest to goodness, tried and tested in my kitchen. I just found a photo of my zeppole with another recipe–its so wrong! You will not get these results with a different recipe. Why are they using (stealing) my photo? Obviously, theirs is either not a tested recipe or they didn’t turn out well, right? Sadly, this happens a lot.
What are Zeppole di San Giuseppe?
Zeppole di San Giuseppe are made from a very slightly sweetened choux pastry. They are filled and topped with pastry cream (crema pasticcera), dusted with powdered sugar and crowned with a syrupy Italian cherry. Nothing super fancy, and overall, zeppole are quite simple to make.
How do I Make Zeppole di San Giuseppe?
First, make the pastry dough, pipe it out on a cookie sheet and bake. While they’re baking, you’ll make the pastry cream filling and fill the baked zeppole when they’re cool. Dust with powdered sugar and top with an Italian cherry! Follow my step by step directions for the pastry, filling and assembly below for perfect results every time. Let’s get right to the zeppole recipe.
Use almost the exact same recipe to make profiteroles!
Can I Make Zeppole di San Giuseppe in Advance?
While it’s not recommended, there are ways to get around not making and baking them just before serving. First of all, the dough can be made and kept refrigerated with no adverse affects, for up to two days. Secondly, once baked, there is a way to “revive the zeppole puffs.
Ever had the real-deal, original tiramisù? You can make it at home with this authentic tiramisù recipe.
If perchance, you have leftover shells the next day, I have discovered that popping them in an air fryer for a minute or two will bring them back to (almost) perfection. Just check them to make sure you don’t dry them out too much as you just want a non-soggy shell, not crispy.
Zeppole di San Giuseppe Recipe
(St. Joseph’s Day Traditional Italian Pastries)
Adapted from my cream puff recipe. Makes 16 zeppole.
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW.
Heat oven to 400ºF (200ºC)
Begin preparing the choux pastry by placing the butter, sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a rolling boil.
Next, add the flour all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for about a minute until the mixture forms a ball.
Remove from heat, keep stirring to cool the dough. When cooled slightly, add an egg and beat well until well incorporated, before adding the next. Repeat with remaining eggs until the batter is smooth and satiny.
Next, place the mixture in a piping bag with a 2D or other tip, or spoon onto a baking tray lined with a silicone sheet or parchment paper. Pipe or shape into small puffs, about 3″ apart. If piping, shape the upper part of the pastry so there is a small hole in the center, or make one with the back of a teaspoon.
Bake for about 30 minutes. Turn off oven, and leave for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
While the cream puffs are baking, make the filling.
How to Make Crema Pasticcera
Place the egg yolks into a medium sized pot OFF THE HEAT.
Add the sugar, potato starch, salt and vanilla and whisk together.
Begin pouring in the warm milk, then turn the burner on a low heat.
Continue whisking and pouring, and gradually increase the heat. Cook until the mixture thickens and is cooked (it will be a few minutes). Cool the pastry cream stirring occasionally.
How to Assemble Zeppole di San Giuseppe
Make a hole with a skewer into the side of the choux pastry bun and fill with pastry cream using a piping bag.
Now, pipe more filling onto the indentation on top and dust with powdered sugar.
(PISTACHIO VERSION: If making the pistachio cream version, instead of topping with more of the pastry cream and a cherry, simply pipe the pistachio cream on top and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. I love this version, maybe even more than the original!)
Finally, top with a cherry, or whatever you’d like to use.
Repeat with the rest of the pastries.
Serve the Zeppole di San Giuseppe
These are lovely in the morning with a cappuccino or espresso coffee. They’re also perfect in the afternoon, or as dessert, after dinner!
I’m adding the option for these pistachio cream zeppole, as inspired by Gran Caffè Gambrinus in Naples.
Please let me know what you think of my Zeppole di San Giuseppe recipe if you make them. I love to hear from you!
Ingredients for pastry
- (4 oz) 1/2 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- (8 oz) 1 cup water
- (5 oz) 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs at room temperature
- powdered sugar to sprinkle
- Fabbri cherries (optional) use an organic maraschino or omit
Heat oven to 400ºF.
Make the Choux Buns
- First prepare the choux pastry, by placing the butter, sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, until it comes to a rolling boil. Add the flour, all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for about a minute until the mixture forms a ball.
- Remove from heat, keep stirring to cool the dough. When cooled slightly, add an egg and beat well until well incorporated, before adding the next. Repeat with remaining eggs until the batter is smooth and satiny.
- Place in piping bag or spoon onto a baking tray lined with a silicone sheet or parchment paper into small puffs, about 3" apart. Pipe the upper part of the pastry so there is a small hole in the center, or make one with the back of a teaspoon.
- Bake for about 30 minutes. Turn off oven, and leave for 10 minutes, then place on cooling rack.
- While the cream puffs are baking, make the pastry cream.
- (See recipe card below).
- Make a hole with a skewer, into the side of the choux pastry and fill with pastry cream using a piping bag. Pipe more filling into the indentation on top and dust with powdered sugar.
- Top with a cherry, or whatever you want to use. Repeat with remaining pastries.
- If you like a lighter filling, fold in 2 or 3 heaped tablespoonfuls of stiffly beaten whipped cream. Even better, add 1 Tbsp Grand Marnier to the cream before folding in the cream.
- These are definitely best consumed the same day (see next tip for reviving instructions). Even better, fill them, decorate and serve immediately, if you can, for the best flavor and presentation.
- If perchance, you have leftover shells the next day, I discovered that popping them in an air fryer for a minute or two will bring them back to (almost) perfection. Just check them to make sure you don't dry them out too much as you just want a non-soggy shell, not crispy.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 74mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 8gProtein: 3g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
- 4 egg yolks (organic)
- ⅓ c (75 g) sugar
- 3 Tbsp (30g) potato starch (if using corn starch add 1 more tsp)
- pinch of salt
- 14 oz (415 ml) milk
- 1 tsp vanilla or ½ tsp pure vanilla powder or paste
- Place the egg yolks into a medium sized pot (off the heat).
- Add the sugar and potato or corn starch and whisk together until uniform.
- When the mixture is smooth, place the pot on the stovetop. Begin pouring in the warm milk whilst whisking. Turn the heat on to medium.
- Continue whisking and gradually increase the heat. The pastry cream will thicken as it heats up.
- When the mixture comes to a boil, let it cook for about 3 minutes then remove from the heat. Add the vanilla and keep stirring as it cools so that it doesn't form a skin. Move into a large bowl and set the bowl into a larger bowl with ice water (if you need to cool it quickly), then refrigerate covered until completely chilled.
- Use as desired.
- If you want a lighter version of this pastry cream, whip 4 oz of heavy whipping cream until stiff and then fold into the chilled pastry cream.
- You can add more or less cream to your liking, and also add a little sugar to the cream when whipping (I prefer it without).
- Adding a tablespoonful of Grand Marnier makes a lovely addition, too.
- Pastry cream can be kept refrigerated for 1 or 2 days, but consume promptly once the pastries are filled.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 108Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 33mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 8gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
- ½ recipe of the prepared crema pasticcera, chilled
- 1 large Tbsp cream of pistachio (see notes)
- 8 oz good quality heavy whipping cream (the highest fat you can find)
- 1 Tbsp powdered/confectioner's sugar
- 1 or 2 Tbsp chopped pistachios (unsalted)
- (optional: green food coloring)
- SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: piping bag and tip (I use 2D)
- Mix one half of the pastry cream recipe with 1 large tablespoon of pistachio cream. Add the food coloring if using, and fold gently.
- Whip the cream and confectioner's sugar until very stiff.
Fold the cream into the pastry cream mixture until uniform in color.
- Prepare the zeppole by filling the center with the plain pastry cream, as in the original recipe, but pipe the top with the pistachio cream, then sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
- Only add food coloring if you need the green color to be more prominent.
- Cream of Pistachio (use code CHRISTINASCUCINA10 for 10% discount on your entire order).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 67Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 19mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is only estimated and for one serving of pastry cream (not with a zeppola).
Getting ready for an Italian Easter? I have recipes for that, too. Try these wonderful Individual Italian Easter Bread Rings (they double as a great table decoration.)
Columba di Pasqua is a traditional Italian sweet dove bread. Plan ahead and buy the proper paper mold for this one or you’ll have to improvise like me.
And how about putting Welsh Cakes for St. David’s Day on the calendar for next year? (March 1st)
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