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.

SFOGLIATELLE FROLLE

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

Method:

  • 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.