Zeppole is a traditional Italian pastry that is usually made during the Feast of St. Joseph. At Caseus, we make them year-round, changing the flavors with the season. Our most popular are simple lemon zeppoles—light and crisp on the outside, with a warm, slightly dense, and chewy dough center. The secret to this dish is to use great ricotta and never to use a mixer or even a spoon or spatula. Your hands make for the least amount of work on the supersensitive dough.
Feeds: enough For 1 medium-sized group or 1 serious donut lover!
2 quarts peanut oil
21/8 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups fresh ricotta
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
In a deep heavy-bottomed pot, heat the peanut oil to about 375°F.
Combine the dry ingredients (minus the powdered sugar) and lemon zest in a bowl. Make a hole in the dry mixture and add the ricotta, vanilla, and eggs inside of the well you’ve created. Combine with your hands, mixing gently until just slightly sticking together.
Ball loosely by pinching a golf-ball-size glob into your fingertips.
Quickly, but very carefully, drop the globs into the hot oil. Do not add more than five globs to the pot at a time. Fry until nicely golden to dark brown and puffed on the outside. They should take about 5–6 minutes per batch.
While hot, toss the zeppoles in a bowl of powdered sugar. Serve immediately. The dish is best when eaten within minutes of coming out of the fryer.
Goat Cheese Cheesecake
This is a traditional New York–style cheesecake with chèvre added. The key to the lightness of this cake, which I learned from my former bosses at Chestnut Fine Foods, is to allow it to rest in the oven overnight after baking. When you turn the oven off, the heat doesn’t dissipate immediately. If you can be patient and leave the door shut, the cake continues to bake very slowly and produces an amazing light texture that cannot be beat!
Feeds: approximately 12 (1 cake)
3 cups graham cracker crumbs, hand-crushed chunky
3/4 cup (11/3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
11/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound fresh goat chèvre, room temperature
1 pint sour cream 2 cups sugar Juice of 1/2 large lemon 11/2 teaspoons vanilla
extract 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 6 eggs
(The earlier you get these two cheeses out on your counter to warm, the better)
for the crust:
Use your hands to crush the graham crackers so they are chunky and incorporated with the melted butter.
Coat 9-inch springform pan with butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and about 1 inch up the sides.
Wrap the pan in foil halfway up the sides so that it is watertight along its bottom edge.
for the filling:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, blend all the ingredients, minus the eggs, until smooth. Then add one egg at a time, waiting until each egg incorporates fully into the mix before adding the next.
Blend again until smooth, stopping the mixer every so often to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so that there are absolutely no lumps.
to make the cheesecake:
Gently pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Place the pan in a larger pan and fill with enough water to come 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake in the oven for 11/4 hours, then turn the oven off. Do not open the oven door. Allow the cake to sit in the oven overnight, or at least 8 hours.
Remove the cake from the springform pan. Refrigerate the cake overnight or for at least 6 hours. This cake improves if allowed to sit around, and is at its best the second or third day after baking. Serve with berries, peaches, or just about anything. It’s sweet and tangy and delicious.