Today does not hold the notoriety of March 17th, nor is celebrated with the same gusto, if drinking green beer is your form of celebration. However every March 19th, my mother-in-law would make St. Joseph’s Day taralli. These little cakes are nothing like the traditional St. Joseph Day pastries you find in most local Italian bakeries. Some are like a cream puff, filled with custard or a whipped style cream topped with a dopple of cream and a cherry. Others are like a zeppole, fried filled with custard and sprinkled with powdered sugar. My sweet husband loved this day, no wonder, it was his feast day. He was never disappointed as his mother would always make sure that these little delicacies were incorporate into the day’s meal. We would also have a meatless meal, generally pasta Aglio et Olio, for you Americans pasta with garlic and oil, topped with breadcrumb and a side of fava beans. Now, for those of you who don’t realize the breadcrumb represents sawdust, as Joseph was a carpenter. Fava beans are considered lucky, as are eating lentils at midnight on New Year’s Eve. You have to love the stories from the old country that bring color to our lives and traditions.
So today as I remember my sweet husband, I too made the sweet taralli and will have the Aglio et Olio topped with breadcrumb. The fava beans are another story. You can find them dried this time of the year but, they are a bugger to prepare that I have yet to conquer. It is said if you carry a dry one in your pocket or pocketbook it will bring good luck. That I can handle!
Here is the recipe for those of you who may like to try these delicious little cakes.
Preheat oven to 350
The zest of one lemon set aside
2 eggs and 1 egg yolk (save the white for the frosting)
3 tablespoons of light olive oil
1 cup of flour plus more for kneading
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
In a medium size bowl mix together the eggs, yolk, oil, sugar, and 1 tablespoon or about half the zest. Beat until smooth with a wire whisk. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet until incorporated enough to take out of the bowl and knead a bit till smooth. You may need some extra flour for this.
Now cut off pieces if the dough and roll into a rope, then twist around and form a circle with a whole in the middle, like a doughnut. Place on a parchment line baking sheet. Yields about 8
Bake at 350 for about 10 to 13 minutes or until puffed and lightly brown. Remove from heat and cool.
Now for the frosting, known as Fluffy White
Beat the remaining egg white with 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar until stiff peaks are formed.
In a small sauce pan bring to a boil 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons of water. Cook until it reaches 230 degrees or the syrup form threads when dripped from a spoon. Cool slightly (it will harden if left too long)
Add to the whites with the remaining zest and beat until glossy. Take a taralli and turn upside down in the frosting to top. You can also add more zest for decoration.
Now make a Latte and Enjoy!
To you my sweetheart!