Sfingi (Sicilian Cream Puffs)

I recently delved into the intimidating world of making italian pastry. I decided to try Sfingi (cream puffs)because they were a favorite growing up. My little Sicilian grandmother would make them every year for christmas and I wanted to re-create that feeling for christmas this year. So I scoured the internet until I came across a recipe that sounded like the kind of cream puffs my grandma used to make. Now as intimidating as they might sound they are actually quite easy and inexpensive to make despite the fact that it took me 3 attempts before they came out looking like the picture above.
here is the recipe altered to perfection so that you can avoid 3 separate attempts and get it right the 1st time:

Sfingi (Sicilian Cream Puffs)
Shell Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup boiling water
1/8 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 cup flour
RICOTTA FILLING:
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup sugar
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (grated)
Preparation:
Put butter and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boiling point. Mix flour and salt, add all at once. Mix well, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and shiny, and leaves the side of the pan. Remove from heat. (let cool 2 minutes) Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously after each egg. Drop a heaping tablespoon  full of batter on greased baking sheet, spaced 2″ apart. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove puffs and cool.
Ricotta Filling:
Combine ricotta and sugar, mixing well. Stir in grated chocolate and almond extract. When cool, cut side of each puff. Fill with ricotta filling by spooning it in with a teaspoon. Makes 12 – 15 large puffs.
Optional: sprinkle confectioners sugar on top.

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