Sandie of the lovely blog, Crumbs of Love, was our November hostess. She challenged us to make a traditional Italian dessert, along with its American version – Sfogliatelle (or better known in the US as lobster tails). The flakey, 1000 layers of super thin dough, shaped into a horn and filled with a scrumptious filling of semolina and ricotta mixture with candied orange peel and a touch of cinnamon. There are two main Italian versions of sfogliatelle. The first is sfogliatelle ricci (or Napoletane) and this is the crispy multilayered version. The second is sfogliatelle frolle, a tender almost cakey version covered in a soft pie crust-like shell. It was mandatory, for the challenge, to make the homemade cheese or the candied peel and at least one version of the sfogliatelle.
For the Fresh Ricotta Cheese
8 cups (2 litres) whole milk (or goats milk)
1 cup (250 ml) heavy whipping cream (about 35%)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt
For the Dough
2 1/3 cups (560 ml) (11-1/2 oz) (325 gm) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (80 ml) (2-2/3 oz)(75 gm) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon (3/4 gm) table salt
8 tablespoons (4 oz) (115 gm) unsalted butter, cold
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
For the Semolina Ricotta Filling
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) fine semolina or cream of wheat
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (13-1/4 oz) (375 gm) fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon (1 gm) ground cinnamon
1/3 cup (80 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) candied orange peel
Zest of 1 lemon
For the Egg Wash
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg
- For the fresh ricotta, line a large colander or strainer with 2 layers of lightly dampened cheesecloth; set aside.
- Pour whole milk, heavy cream and salt into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisk occasionally.
- Reduce the heat, add the fresh lemon juice and stir/whisk continuously for 2-3 minutes. The mixture will curdle.
- Pour this into the cheesecloth lined strainer and let it drain for about 1 hour or until it comes to room temperature.
- Scrape the ricotta from the cheesecloth into a container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Makes 2 cups of ricotta.
- For the dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl by hand. Remove the butter from the fridge.
- Pound it a few times with a rolling pin to make it pliable. Add to the flour and start rubbing it into the mixture.
- Work with your fingertips, from the bottom of the bowl upwards, quickly so that the butter does not get warm.
- This only takes a minute or two to complete. Add eggs and stir dough with a fork until it starts to hold together.
- Empty it out onto your workspace and knead a few times. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill until firm.
- Meanwhile, prepare the semolina ricotta filling. For the egg wash, whisk together the egg yolk and the egg.
- Combine the milk and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat.
- Slowly add the semolina (or cream of wheat), whisking quickly as to avoid any lumps. Cook, stirring often.
- Mixture will be smooth and thick after about 2 minutes. Spread the mixture onto a lined baking sheet to cool.
- When cool, break into pieces and place into the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Add ricotta cheese, yolks, vanilla and cinnamon. Beat until very smooth. Stir in candied peel and lemon zest.
- Scrape into a container, place plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate until needed for up to 3 days.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into 10 equal pieces. Roll each into a 5 inch (12-1/2 cm) rectangle.
- Place a hefty tablespoon amount of filling on the lower half of each piece of dough and pull the top half over this.
- Press down around filling and seal edges together. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut away any excess dough.
- Place on a prepared baking sheet and chill for 2 hours. Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5.
- Brush with egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes, just until golden. Cool briefly on a rack. Makes 12 pieces.