Sfincia di San Giuseppe | Sicilian Dessert Recipe
Updated: Jul 22, 2022
These Sicilian delicacies are traditionally made for San Giuseppe's day, the Italian Father's Day! They consist of a large beignet, stuffed and topped with sweet ricotta and chocolate chips.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
Makes about 6-8.
For this recipe, you will need:
10.5 oz. (300g) ricotta (we recommend skim if you can find it; it's closer to real Italian ricotta!)
Powdered sugar to taste
1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup (125ml) water
3 tbsp. (40g) lard
3 large eggs
Frying oil to fill a small saucepan (you'll want a dessert-friendly oil, such as peanut)
We recommend having a frying thermometer on hand, as the temperature requires a fair degree of control)
Mini chocolate chips to taste
Candied cherries for topping
Crushed pistachio nuts for topping
It's best to prep the ricotta the day before. Use a spatula to press it through a fine mesh sieve. Then, mix in powdered sugar to taste (you can make it as sweet as you like). Press it through the sieve one more time, place the ricotta back into the sieve over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit in the fridge overnight to lose excess moisture.
Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl and mix thoroughly. In a small saucepan, add the water, a large pinch of salt, and the lard over low heat. As soon as the lard melts, pour in all of the flour mixture and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. It will quickly form into a thick, pasty dough. As soon as it's well-mixed and doesn't stick to the pot, remove it from the stove and let it cool.
When the dough (pate choux) reaches room temperature, add one egg and mix it in thoroughly. Then add the second egg and repeat. For the third egg, whisk it in a separate bowl and only add 1/3 of it into the dough (the rest can be discarded or preferably used elsewhere). Mix the pate choux very well with a whisk.
Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan of frying oil. Because of the size of the beignets, we find that a lower-than-normal frying temperature is required to ensure that they fully cook before burning on the outside. We therefore recommend bringing the oil up to 300 degrees F (150 C).
When the oil is up to a stable temperature, scoop a big, heaping teaspoon of pate choux and form it into as close to a ball as you can with another spoon. Carefully drop it into the oil.
Fry the beignet until it has a deep golden crust and is cooked throughout (you may need to test one to get the timing right). Use a spoon to keep it turning in the oil so the it fries evenly on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel to dry. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
When the beignets are done, remove the ricotta from the fridge and mix in chocolate chips to taste. Cut a beignet open halfway (clamshell style) and fill with the ricotta. Finish by spreading more ricotta on top, followed by a candied cherry and a sprinkle of crushed pistachio nuts.