Italian Pastries


Sfinges, in Italy called Sfinci are made differently than “zeppole” which is the actual name for fried dough.

But since my Mother always called them Sfinges then that’s what we’re calling them.


Whatever you want to call them, Italian fried dough dipped in sugar is a great little treat for yourself and the kids.



Ricotta Cream:

  • One 15 ounce container part-skim milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon chopped candied orange peel or citron


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Candied orange peel or cherries, and chopped pistachios, for garnish



To make the cream, whisk the ricotta, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in the chocolate and orange peel.  (Can be made up to 24 hours ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.)

flour and cream sfinges in the making

In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, heat the butter, water, and salt until the butter melts and the mixture reaches a boil.Remove from the heat.Add the flour all at once and stir well with a wooden spoon until the flour is completely incorporated.

butter in bowl sfinges flour

Return the saucepan to the stove over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly and turning the dough often, until the dough begins to leave a thin film on the bottom of the saucepan, about 3 minutes.Transfer the dough to a large bowl.
Add the eggs one at a time beating thoroughly after each addition with a wire whisk.At first the dough will resist absorbing the eggs, but continue to beat it until smooth.

sfinges dough

In a deep heavy saucepan or deep fryer, bring about 3 inches of oil to 370°F on a deep frying thermometer.Scoop up about 1 rounded tablespoon of the batter. With another spoon, push the batter into the oil being careful not to splash it.
Add more spoonfuls of batter but do not crowd the pan.The batter will puff up and double or triple in size.

Cook, turning the puffs often, until golden brown. When they are almost done, the sfinci will break open.


sfinges bare

 Continue to cook 1 or two minutes more. Remove the puffs with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Place them on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining batter.
When all of the puffs have been fried, split them partially open like a book with a small knife.Fill with the ricotta cream. Garnish the cream with strips of candied orange peel.
Serve warm or chill your sfinges until serving time.These are best eaten soon after they are made.


sfinges sfinges

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