Sfince di San Giuseppe

The sfince di San Giuseppe, the typical Sicilian dessert for Father's Day, are large spongy fried cream puffs of Palermo origin, filled with ricotta and chocolate cream, and garnished with chopped pistachios and candied fruit. They are soft, irregularly shaped delicacies that are prepared with long, gentle frying. During cooking, to help the pasta swell better, light taps are given with a wooden spoon, the so-called “mazzuliata”, placed perpendicular to the pasta itself. In this way the dough will swell, tripling its initial volume, becoming soft and honeycombed inside. The name sfincia derives from the Latin “spongia” or sponge, given that this dessert, due to its shape and consistency, resembles a soft sponge. The procedure for preparing the sfince di San Giuseppe is the same used for the cream puffs: the same mixture with some changes in the balance of the ingredients. The ancient recipe for sfinci di San Giuseppe requires lard, we offer you the version with butter. Sfince are traditionally prepared for Father's Day, March 19th, but given their goodness, they can be found in pastry shops all year round.


Total time 1 not 35 minutes

For the dough

  • 250 g water
  • 150 g medium strong 00 flour sifted
  • 100 g burro
  • 4 whole eggs at room temperature
  • 1 pinch of salt

For the ricotta cream

  • 1 kg sheep's ricotta dry
  • 200 g sugar
  • 80 g dark chocolate chips
  • grated zest of 1 lemon

To decorate

  • 10 candied cherries
  • 20 candied orange peel
  • chopped pistachios to taste
  • icing sugar to taste

For frying

  • 1 kg lard or peanut oil to taste
  • saucepan with high edges

  • wide pan with high sides, for frying

  • wooden spoon

  • skimmer

  • kitchen absorbent paper

  • 2 tbsp

  • Sieve the ricotta and collect it in a bowl (better if left to drain overnight, this way it will lose the whey and be more compact).

  • Add the sugar and mix with the help of a whisk. Add the lemon zest and chocolate chips. Cover with cling film and set aside in the refrigerator.

Prepare the dough

  • Using a saucepan with high sides, pour in the water, salt and butter cut into pieces. Place the pan on the heat and wait for the butter to melt and for the mixture to boil. It is important that the butter is cut into small pieces so that it melts and mixes with the liquid. Furthermore, another very important thing is not to let the mixture boil for a long time: with boiling, part of the liquid would evaporate, varying the dose of water in the recipe.

  • As soon as the first bubbles appear, remove the pan from the heat, throw the flour all at once into the pan and stir vigorously continuously with a wooden spoon. An increasingly dense batter will form. The batter will need to dry.

  • Place the pan back on the stove over low heat and stir until it dries for about 2-3 minutes. To understand if the pasta is ready, an opaque film must remain on the bottom of the saucepan and detach from the walls. It's normal for there to be a film on the bottom, don't try to scrape it off with a spoon.

  • Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or into a bowl with an electric whisk. Mix for 2-3 minutes to cool the pasta, it does not necessarily have to be cold.

  • The time has come to incorporate the eggs: pour in the first half all at once (this is because pouring in a small quantity of eggs would cause them to coagulate due to the high temperature of the batter). Never pour them all at once. Then add the other eggs little by little, taking care not to add more until the previous ones have been absorbed. The paste should be smooth and shiny. It should have a consistency similar to a custard: smooth, shiny and soft. Checking its consistency is done by lifting the blade of the mixer and checking that the dough comes away forming a “V”.


  • Heat plenty of lard in a pan with high sides. The oil must not exceed 165°C so that the sfince cook well internally too. Pour the mixture using the two spoons, taking one dose at a time. However, dip the two spoons in the oil first to prevent the pasta from sticking.

  • Fry a few pieces at a time, it will take about 15 minutes. Turn them very often to ensure that they triple in volume and cook evenly. Every now and then, give them light taps with a wooden spoon placed perpendicular to the dough: the blow will slightly break the dough, favoring its expansion. At the end of cooking the sfince will appear golden brown on all sides and honeycombed inside. They should be puffy and light. Once finished, drain them on absorbent paper.

  • As soon as they are cold and dry, cut them in half, fill them with plenty of ricotta cream until you almost see it come out, close them and spread a little more ricotta on top.

  • Dust with icing sugar, decorate with half the candied cherry, orange zest and chopped pistachios.

It is important to use a slightly strong flour for better absorption of the eggs.


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