Zeppole di San Giuseppe


A delicious zeppole, drawn by Judy Romero.

Andrew Rodriguez, Reporter/Photo Editor

Hey guys, I have returned with another recipe! This recipe comes from Emmy, owner of the youtube channel emmymade. I’ve made this recipe twice, and let me tell you, it is time consuming. My two friends and I made these together and it still took literally half the day to make these. A zeppola (zeppole is plural) is an Italian cream puff that’s filled with a custard cream and topped with a maraschino cherry. Hailing from Italy, Italians celebrate San Giuseppe, or St. Joseph with this treat. It is said that San Giuseppe saved Sicily from a drought and in celebration, Italians have a feast every year on March 19, with zeppole being a staple. Alright, let’s go make some zeppole!


You will need to make the pastry cream first before making the pastry dough since it requires some refrigeration. Also, this recipe yields 8 zeppole.


Ingredients you will need for the cream:

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

2 cups of whole milk

1 lemon peel, 2” long will suffice 

3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

a pinch salt 


Ingredients you will need for the pastry dough:

1 cup of water

1/2 cup of salted butter, cut into 1″ pats

1 cup of all-purpose flour

4 eggs

a pinch Kosher salt 


Garnishings (optional):

maraschino cherries

powdered sugar


All right, let’s get started on the cream!


  1. The first thing you want to do is grab a large bowl and whisk together your 3 egg yolks and sugar. You want this mixture to go from a bright yellow, to a pale, almost pastel, yellow. When this is achieved, add your flour and cornstarch and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, add the milk and lemon peel and cook this on medium heat until it barely boils. (You don’t want to boil this mixture because you can risk burning your milk, which, let’s be honest, isn’t the tastiest.) Turn off the heat when this happens.
  3. Now, this step is critical. Gently ladle the hot milk into your egg mixture one ladle at a time, and mix thoroughly after each ladle. The milk is hot and if we add too much to the egg mixture at a time, it will cook your eggs, giving you sweet scrambled eggs, bleh. 
  4. When all of the milk is combined, return the milk/egg mixture to the saucepan. Whisk continuously on medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  5. When the custard is thick, remove it from the heat and pour the custard onto a baking tray to cool. Cover the custard with saran wrap so it doesn’t form a skin, and stick it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.


Yay! Now that our custard has been made, we can now get started on the pastry dough. I highly recommend making both the custard and the dough on the same day because then you can chill both the custard and the dough overnight and start baking the next day.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉
  2. In a medium saucepan, add 1 cup of water and the butter. Bring this to a boil, and once it boils, turn off the heat and add in the flour. Mix to form a dough, and once formed, return to medium heat and stir constantly for 3 minutes. The dough should start to pull away from the sides of the pan and form into a ball once it is finished cooking.
  3. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to mix the dough for about 2 minutes. This is going to help cool down the dough enough to be able to add in our eggs so that way they don’t curdle. Add in your eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Finally, on high speed, mix for about a minute to incorporate everything thoroughly.
  4. So for this step, you’re going to need a piping bag with a star tip (the one that looks like a churro). However, this can simply be accomplished by cutting the end of a ziplock bag, though your zeppole won’t have a star-shaped pattern like a churro. Grab a baking sheet lined with parchment and start piping. You’re going to want to pipe in a circular motion, starting in the middle, and working counterclockwise. When your pastry looks like a 3”-4” circle, start building the walls of the zeppole. This will give us a little divot to dollop our custard onto. On your circle, swirl 3-4 rings coming inward, so it almost looks like a doughnut. Repeat this process until you run out of dough!
  5. Pop these into the oven for about 25-30 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN WHILE THESE ARE COOKING!! Your zeppole WILL collapse. After 25 minutes, take a toothpick and pierce a hole into each zeppola. This will cause excess steam to escape, which will give us a lovely, crispy pastry. Bake for the remaining 5 minutes. Allow the zeppole to cool completely, otherwise you will melt the custard.
  6. Using a knife, cut the pastries in half. Pipe your custard inside one half and then cover it with the other half, like you would a sandwich. Remember that little divot we made? Pipe some more custard onto that divot, add a maraschino cherry, and dust it with powdered sugar. Repeat for each pastry.

I wasn’t kidding when I told you this recipe was time consuming. However, it surely pays off. The satisfying crunch of the pastry and the sweet custard make for an amazing dessert. I hope this recipe taught you not only how to be a better pâtissier, but something new on a cultural and historical level. Now, go gather an army of friends and tackle this amazing recipe together! Grazie e arrivederci!