Sfineġ, orżeppoli as they are called sometimes, are the Maltese version of the Sicilian sfinci. Generally, the sfineġ have a savoury filling, while the żeppoli are filled with sweetened ricotta. Most probably, the Maltese name derives from the name of similar pastries made in Naples, Italy, known as zeppole. In Malta, the żeppoli are a traditional sweet prepared for the feast of St. Joseph, which is held on the 19th March.
The recipe for the dough is a basic choux paste. First, it is deep fried and filled with sweetened ricotta and a blend of toasted almonds coarsely chopped, chipped chocolate and finely chopped candied peel. Finally, it is drizzled with honey, preferably Maltese, and sprinkled with chopped, roasted almonds.
For the pastry
200g plain flour 00
100g unsalted butter
oil for frying
For the filling
roasted almonds, roughly chopped
honey for drizzling
- Put the water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the butter and stir until it melts.
- Lower heat and pour in the flour and one tablespoonful of caster sugar. Beat the mixture until it comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove from heat and leave to cool.
- Prepare the filling while the mixture is cooling.
- Put the ricotta, together with the candied peel, chocolate chips and sugar, in a large mixing bowl. Mix well until you obtain a smooth mixture. Add more sugar, if you prefer sweeter żeppoli.
- When the initial mixture has cooled, beat in the eggs with the use of an electric beater until the mixture is smooth and shiny.
- Pour oil into a deep saucepan and heat it well, taking care not to let it burn. Carefully, drop heaped teaspoonfuls of the choux paste into the boiling oil.
- Remove them as soon as they turn puffy and golden, using a slotted spoon. Place them on thick kitchen tissues so that the oil is absorbed.
- Slit each żeppola and fill it with the ricotta mixture. Finally, drizzle it with honey and sprinkle some chopped, roasted almonds on top