Growing up in New Jersey, zeppole (Italian fried dough balls) from the local pizza parlor were a favorite afternoon treat. My friends and I would often stop in on our way home from school and split a greasy brown paper bag full of the freshly fried dumplings dipped in powdery white sugar (the latter would inevitably get all over our school uniforms, much to our mothers’ dismay!).
This recipe puts a chocolaty twist on the old favorite by replacing butter with Dark Chocolate Dreams. A dusting of cocoa sugar at the end will make them just as appealing to adults as they are to kids.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yield: 12-16 zeppole
½ cup Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 rounded teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup granulated white sugar
¾ cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine the Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter, unsalted butter, kosher salt, ¼ cup granulated sugar, and water. Stir until all ingredients are melted and smooth. Immediately stir in flour with a wooden spoon and stir quickly over heat until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl or the base of your mixer with the paddle attachment in place and set to low. Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each one to incorporate fully before adding the next. Once all the eggs are in, add the cocoa powder and continue to beat until a smooth, thick batter forms.
2. Pour enough oil into a heavy-bottomed pot to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°F. (A deep fryer can also be used for this step.)
3. Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to drop 1/8th cup-sized scoops of batter into the hot oil in batches. Let fry about 2-4 minutes or until puffed and evenly crisp on all sides, turning as necessary. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a paper towel-lined tray and let drain and cool while you repeat with the rest of the batch.
4. Combine the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Use a sifter or fine sieve to dust the sugar mixture over the zeppole. These are best when fresh so serve immediately while still hot.
Serving Suggestion: Traditionally, zeppole are sold tossed in a brown paper bag along with a few scoops a sugar. For a play on this, roll a brown paper bag down to create a bowl and stuff the bottom with crumpled paper towels. Arrange the zeppole on top and dust with cocoa sugar before serving. Melted caramel sauce, whipped cream, or chocolate ganache would also be a welcome as a dipping sauce on the side.
What dipping sauce would you have with zeppole? Leave a comment and on Monday, June 11 2012 we’ll choose a random commenter to win a 16oz jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams, the peanut butter used in this recipe! US residents only.