Every year my Mom would celebrate my Father’s name day with a batch of Cream Puffs filled with ricotta cream.  She called them Sfingi di San Giuseppe.  The dough itself (pate choux) is a kind of kitchen miracle.  First you boil a cup of water with 8 tablespoons of oil and a half teaspoon of salt.  Then you dump in a cup of flour.  Instead of turning into a lumpy mess, the dough comes together into a smooth,shiny ball.  You take it off the heat and stir in four eggs, one at a time.  With the addition of each egg it looks like you are going to end up with a lumpy mess and then it suddenly comes together.  Then you add the next egg…

pate choux

You heat the oven to an impossibly high 450 degrees.  Drop the batter by spoonful onto a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  They puff up magically creating crispy exteriors and empty centers.  Cut a small slit in each to allow steam to escape so the outsides don’t get soggy.

I always loved the irregular shapes they form, individual as snowflakes. You really need to let them cool before filling.

I use a sweetened ricotta filling (one pound of drained ricotta to 3/4 cup powdered sugar, mixed well in the food processor) and then flavored with a teaspoon of vanilla or some amaretto.  If you like you can dd finely chopped candied orange peels and tiny morsels of chocolate.

I could eat this cream for breakfast on toast.  Let it set up in the refrigerator while the cream puffs cool.  Then just split each puff open and spoon in a nice dollop of cream.  Put them on a platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  This is the first year my dad isn’t around for his name day.   I’ve made a batch for my son, his namesake.  And so the tradition goes on.