Friday, March 13, 2009

St Joseph's Sfinci (plus a simple suggestion for stone fruit)

Easter at my house with my neighbor Maryanne and our friend Vincent...He is Sicilian!
From front to back there is Onion bread from Maryanne, Ham, Souvlaki(pork), Moussaka, Tzadziki, all the regular Easter veggies and Greek Salad to the right. This would be a great dessert for such a meal. Lots of dessert POWER in a small package and easy to do...Plus they look a little like eggs! All this mix of Ham and Greek food was because we had a Greek/Irish family over for Easter.

I cannot claim these as my own. However, I am the only one in the family that does these as far as I know. It is very like the ones in Sicily, and I have to look up some amounts each time...usually in different books. The thing is, these are very like other Sfinci recipes you will see. Basically this is a Pate Choux (Someone please correct my spelling if they have superior knowledge.) It is a cream puff pastry. It is very simple once you have tried it once or twice so you are not intimidated. The filling can be just thrown together and feel free to make variations.

This filling would be appropriate in any filled pastry like Cannoli, Napoleons etc.

3/4 cup water
4 Tablespoons of butter
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Bring the three to a boil in a large sauce pan.

Throw in all at once:

2/3 cup flour

Stir constantly till the flour is cooked. A couple of minutes at a low temp should do it. You are not trying to brown it but cook it till it leaves the sides of the pan.

Allow it to cool till very warm.

Work in:

3 eggs one at a time. Old recipes ask you to separate the eggs, beat the white till frothy and add alternately with the yolks in six stages. Forget that!
Beat each egg vigorously till incorporated completely.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an un-greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes till light brown and crisp.

Remove from the oven and cool briefly. Cut the tops off and scoop out any dough that is not cooked dry. You could also return these to the oven for a few minutes to really crisp them up inside and out.


One pound of ricotta cheese(drained overnight in a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towels)
1/2 pound of confectioner's (some recipes say granulated) sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate (finely chopped)
1/4 cup minced candied fruit of your choice or mixed.(I like orange rind best)

Stuff the puffs with the caps on top and pipe a bit of the stuffing on top to adhere the decorations. Or you can use 'half puffs' uncovered with the decorations on top.

2 Tablespoons of candied orange rind cut in little strips if possible for decoration. Make the strips thin enough to see through if you are not used to these. A little bit makes a good statement.
2 Tablespoons of chopped Pistachios(other nuts will do if toasted, but the color will not be as nice). These are usually chopped very fine and appear like a dusting of snow for the nice light green color.
Candied cherries. (whole or halved)

Just be creative with the decorations, but be restrained. Remember how much is in the filling.

Keep these refrigerated and serve soon after filling. The fillings could be fun for a group assembly line or kids.

Also this is a wonderful idea for fruit desserts. This filling is powerful stuff!
Try dipping the cut side of halved and pitted stone fruit in sugar and broiling them till it heats through and caramelizes a bit. You could drizzle with honey and bake a pan of fruit too. Be careful of how much you sweeten the fruit as the filling can be overpowering without the foil of the relatively natural fruit. Serve just one half fruit alone or on a bed of pound cake squares. Pipe a pretty star shape into the seed cavity of the fruit. Use a big tip for this as the filling is rather chunky. This would also be nice on canned fruit perhaps heated briefly.

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