If you’ve eaten a sweet, fried ball of something in Italy, chances are you’ve eaten zeppole, strufoli or what are sometimes referred to as “Italian doughnuts.”
What I’m about to show you are not zeppole or strufoli.
They’re way better.
And in my twisted little cooking world, these are healthier since the principal ingredient is yummy, delicious ricotta and no added oil/butter/fat is in the recipe. Um, other than the oil you’re frying them in. But focus on the healthy part I mentioned earlier.
I was introduced to these this summer when I was in Sicily. The family who introduced me to them has the luxury of owning a “cheese farm” so they have fresh ricotta everywhere. Make sure to get the ricotta as fresh as you can, unpackaged if possible.
These are so easy to make and they practically cook themselves.
Palline di Ricotta Fritte – Sweet, Fried balls of Ricotta
Note: When frying with large amounts of oil, please use caution. Wear an apron and protect your arms, if not your hands.
500g fresh ricotta
200g “00” (all-purpose) flour
1T. granulated sugar
2t. vanilla extract
1 lemon peel
1 packet of instant yeast (about 15g)
Optional: 2 T. Limoncello or Marsala wine
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Make sure the lemon peel is obtained using a microplane grater so that there are no white, bitter parts.
- In a deep fryer or a deep saucepan, heat several inches (4″ is a good amount) of vegetable frying oil over medium to medium-high heat. Test readiness after a few minutes by dipping a spoon with some batter (it will be very sticky and will not slide off) and see if it starts to bubble/fry.
- Turn heat slightly down if you were heating it quickly. Grab a large spoon and a small spatula. Scoop up batter about 1/2 of the large spoon. Then, scoop the batter off the spoon using the spatula, then scrape it back onto the spoon (trying to create a rough ball shape). You may have to do this shaping with the spatula 2-3 times until you get a rough ball on the spoon.
- Using the spatula, scrape the dough off the spoon into the oil, being careful not to splash.
- The dough will sink to the bottom, and start frying. From this point, you just have to watch them. The round shape means that the balls will turn themselves and fry evenly as you watch!
- Using a slotted spoon or similar, scoop the balls out of the oil, letting the excess drip back into the pan before putting them on a baking tray lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil
- Follow directions below to sweeten your palline di ricotta as you prefer.
Ways to Sweeten the Fried Balls of Ricotta
Though they are great alone (we couldn’t stop eating them), they are also great a bit sweeter. Choose your favorite, add one in the comments!
- Granulated sugar: After removing the balls from the oil, roll them directly in a bowl of granulated sugar before putting them to cool down. The sugar will stick better.
- Cinnamon sugar: Prepare a bowl with 1 cup of sugar for rolling and add 2 T. of cinnamon to flavor it. Roll the balls in the sugar before setting them to cool down.
- Powdered sugar: This can be sprinkled on the cooled palline, similar to zeppole.
- Honey: After the balls have cooled down, you can drizzle honey over them and add multicolored sprinkles like strufoli.