My Nonni has always made the kind of zeppole without the cream. I have the recipe for that at home, but in true fashion, I needed to try the kind with the cream (for which I do not possess a recipe). So I googled a recipe, and I found one that looked pretty standard. It was a recipe for "choux pastry" which is a pastry typically used for cream puffs, as well as a cream filling. Well, lesson number 1: Always ask someone if they have a recipe rather than using a random online recipe. Why, you ask? WELL: The recipe for the choux pastry was ridiculous. Not only did it list ingredients, and then neglect to tell you what to do them in the directions, it was a lot of work! So much work, in fact, that I have a blister on the thumb from the wooden spoon!! There was a LOT of mixing involved. And after all the work of getting the pastry done, they didn't rise AT ALL! I had one batch where they looked like they rose beautifully, but as soon as I took them out of the oven, they completely deflated! Since the first batch was OK, I used those pastries. The cream was very easy, but required refrigeration before it could be used. So Saturday morning, I stuffed the zeppole, and then went on my rounds making deliveries. They still tasted pretty good....
On Saturday, while I was making the deliveries, I talked to a friend of the family, who suggested that I use the recipe for Choux Pastry that is in the Joy of Cooking. So naturally, I went home and made another batch....SO MUCH BETTER!!! I was quite proud of myself.
So after making the second batch of Zeppole, I then decided that I wanted to make Sfogliatelle (sfol-j'ah-TEL-e). Aside from their extremely complicated name, they're extremely difficult to make, too! I thought they would be easy....But boy was I wrong. I looked online and managed to find a recipe that I thought looked "easy" ...... Well, the recipe itself was easy, but the whole making them look right and stuffing them...not so easy. So if you don't know anything about sfogliatelle, they actually look like quahogs....You have to roll out the dough so that it's so incredibly thin that you can practically see through it. Then, you brush it with butter, roll it up, and then after it chilled (the step I left out), you slice it, stretch it out, stuff it, and manage to get it to look like a delicious flaky pastry with a delicious ricotta-mix center. YUM. Here's a picture of what they're supposed to look like:
I can't tell the difference....Can you??? ;-)