Sfinge di San Giuseppe
(Cream Puffs of St. Joseph)
March 19: Feast Day of St. Joseph
In our nearly 19 years of marriage (since 1996), we have moved five times (excluding the time we lived apart for a year when Islander took a temporary job back home in Hawaii while Highlander stayed in New Jersey for his job). We are aware of the legend of the St. Joseph statue to sell a house—and we do have such a statue. But we have not followed tradition by burying it upside down in the front lawn when we put our homes on the market. We just relied on God for His timing and His care whenever we moved.
St. Joseph is known as the patron saint of real estate and home sales. The earthly father of the Jesus was a good role model to the Christ Child, providing a happy and stable home life to Jesus and his wife Mary. We admire the virtues of St. Joseph and are honoring him on his feast day by making an Italian-style cream puff called Sfinge di San Giuseppe.
(Adapted from Recipe Goldmine)
For the filling
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup chocolate, grated (we used mini chocolate chips)
- 2 tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped
In a bowl, cream the ricotta cheese with the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Stir in the vanilla.
Mix in the grated chocolate or mini chocolate chips and chopped pistachios. Cover and chill to thicken.
For the cream puffs
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup butter, unsalted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup flour, sifted
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
In a large pot, boil the water with the butter, sugar, lemon zest and salt. When the butter is melted, remove from heat. Add the flour and quickly stir until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pot.
Return to the stovetop on medium heat and beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from heat and let the dough rest in the covered pot for 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with buttered parchment paper. Scoop a tablespoon of the dough onto the baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
For the topping
- Powdered sugar
- Maraschino cherries, drained
When ready to serve, slice each puff and sandwich the filling between it. Or spoon the filling over the top of each puff. Arrange on a platter and sprinkle powdered sugar over the puffs and top each with a maraschino cherry. Serve immediately so the puffs do not get soggy.
- Various versions of the St. Joseph cream puff recipe are called sfinge/sfingi and zeppole/zeppola. Some deep fry the pastry balls/fritters, some are star-piped into circles, some are drizzled with chocolate and some have a custard-like cream filling piped inside.
- Joseph has another feast day on May 1, which honors him as the patron saint of labor workers.