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Calzoni

Calzoni

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Makes about 18.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from a recipe found on the La Cucina Italiana magazine web site.

I have seen these pastries with half a dozen different names. I chose Calzoni from among them. They are like little doughnuts with stuffing. This is one of the most unusual pastries I’ve seen. The first time I made them the flavor took me by surprise. They would go well with a cup of coffee.

Ingredients:

¾ cup (177ml) whole milk
1 packet active dry yeast (about 2½ teaspoons)
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar, divided
2¼ cups (11 ounces/312g) unbleached flour (all-purpose or bread flour okay)
2 large eggs; separated
2 tablespoons unsalted or clarified butter (whole butter is okay)
Finely grated zest from half a lemon
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (170g) ricotta cheese
Finely grated zest from an orange
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1 quart (1 liter) vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

Heat the milk in a small saucepan to 105 to 115°F (41 to 46°C). Remove from the heat and sprinkle the yeast and ¼ teaspoon of sugar on top. Let sit 5 minutes until it is foamy.

Pour the yeast mixture into a mixer bowl and stir in 1 cup of flour to make a sponge. Cover and let rise at least 1 hour. Add the remaining flour, the yolks from the two eggs (retain the egg whites), butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Combine and knead about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. This step can be done in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Place the dough in a large buttered bowl and butter the top of the dough. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

In a medium bowl combine the ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar, vanilla extract, and the zest from the orange. Cover and set aside until needed. For a sweeter filling, use 2 tablespoons sugar.

In a small bowl combine the egg whites with 1 tablespoon of water and mix well. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Shape a small piece of dough into a ball about 1½ inches (4cm) in diameter and then press it into a flat disk about 4 inches (10cm) in diameter. Place about 1 teaspoon of filling on one half of the disk, leaving a border. Using a pastry brush, brush egg wash on the border halfway around disk. Fold the remaining half of the dough over, covering the filling, and press to seal. The edge can be trimmed with a fluted cutter and pressed with the tines of a fork (see pictures below) to decorate.

Hold the crescent upside-down and brush one point with egg wash. Roll the crescent around a finger and overlap the two corners by about half an inch (1cm) and press well to seal. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Continue until all the dough or the filling is used.

Pour oil in a heavy pot and heat to 375°F (180°C) (use a digital thermometer made for hot oil). Carefully place 4 or 5 calzoni in the hot oil and fry about 1 minute until puffed and golden. Turn and fry the other side.

Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer the calzoni to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar while still fresh from the oil. Let cool and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Optional: You can garnish with powdered sugar before serving.