Bignè di Ricotta

Cream Puffs Filled with Ricotta

This is one of the most popular and best-loved uses for pasta bignè. The paste is formed into small puffs, which, after baking, are opened and filled with a smooth ricotta cream. Vary the flavoring of the cream by changing the liqueur, if you like; an herb liqueur, like Strega, would be an interesting choice.

Ingredients

    Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • pounds whole-milk ricotta, commercial or homemade
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons anisette
  • 3 tablespoons candied orange peel, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Method

Line 2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment. Place half the pasta bignè in a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tube (Ateco #6). Pipe 8 spheres, each about inches in diameter, and space them about 3 inches apart. Pipe the pasta bignè by holding the bag perpendicular to the pan and about 1 inch above it, squeezing out a sphere of the paste, then releasing the pressure and pulling away from the piped puff. If there are points of the paste in the center of the puffs, moisten a fingertip with water and press the points smooth. Repeat with the second half of the pasta bignè.

Bake the bignè at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, until they are well risen and a deep gold. To test one for doneness, remove it from the oven and cut it open. If there are several filaments of the unbaked paste still clinging to the inside of the puff, continue baking for another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the puffs to a rack to cool.

For the ricotta filling, combine the ricotta and the 1 cup confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process about 30 seconds, scrape down, and process another 30 seconds, until smooth. Remove to a bowl and stir in the remaining filling ingredients.

To fill the puffs, slice the top third from each one with a sharp, serrated knife. Pipe or spoon in the filling, making sure it protrudes slightly from each puff. Replace the tops and refrigerate the puffs, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 4 hours before serving. If they are baked crisp enough, they should withstand the refrigerator without becoming soggy. Dust the bignè with the confectioners’ sugar immediately before serving.

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing

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