Italian Cream Puffs for St. Joseph’s Day

Tomorrow is St. Joseph’s Day! Italian Cream Puffs are typically made during this time of the year, specifically on March 19th, to commemorate the Feast of San Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s Day). If you haven’t tried a San Giuseppe cream puff yet, you’re in for a real delight!

Italian Cream Puffs for St. Joseph’s Day

These Italian cream puffs are light buttery pastries baked filled with luscious cream and topped with a cherry and some powdered sugar. Yum! Plus, these cream puffs for St. Joseph’s Day can be filled with 2 different types of cream fillings:

1. Vanilla Custard: Cream puffs can be filled with traditional vanilla custard, the Neapolitan version, known as the zeppola or zeppole. 

2. Cannoli Cream: Cream puffs filled with rich cannoli cream are known as the Sicilian version, traditionally called the Sfinge. 

Each one is topped with a cherry and some powdered sugar, making them look like a professional baker made them.  And, they are SO amazingly delicious!!  We always look forward to these wonderful treats every year!

2 cream puffs filled with cream, with cherry on top on a white platter.

What is a Sfinge? 

  • The Sfinge is a trendy Sicilian treat, always made on March 19th, the Feast of San Giuseppe. The feast honors the patron saint of all fathers.
  • The Sfinge is traditionally a deep-fried pastry filled with candied citrus and rich ricotta cream.
  • While they are consumed primarily on St. Joseph’s Day, they are now made all year round in Sicily and can be found in every pastry shop throughout Italy and here in the States.

And since my husband’s name is Joseph (born near Palermo, Sicily), I wanted to surprise him with his childhood favorite pastry – the Sfinge.

My sister and I also grew up with these gems, but they have a special meaning to my husband.  They were always consumed on or around the Name Day, St. Joseph’s Day; and in Italy, it is a celebration that is larger than one’s birthday.

A white platter filled with cream puff pastries with cherries on top.

Overview to make them…

QUICK NOTE: Italian Cream Puffs for St. Joseph’s Day are relatively easy to make. You only need a little time and patience to fill them with the cream. This recipe makes about 20 cream puffs, enough to share with everyone.

1.  First, staple ingredients used to make these delicious pastries: are butter, eggs, and flour. Then, we bake theminstead of deep-frying. 

(Yes, of course… *Baked = easier, healthier, and a lighter texture in the pastry!!)

2.  Next, we made 2 cream fillings (recipes for cream fillings are included in our recipe card). One cream filling for my husband and the other for my family.

  • The Cannoli-Cream Filling:  is made with whole milk ricotta, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest, cinnamon, and mini chocolate chips. 

… both cream fillings are very easy to make!

St. Joseph's Cream Puffs by 2sistersrecipes.com

 

How to Make These Italian Cream Puffs?

*Follow our Step-by-Step Directions, or jump to the bottom for our full recipe card.

Ingredients Needed to Make the Pastry:

  • 6 Tbsp. (3/4 of a stick, or 85grams) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (177ml) water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup (96g) of sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs

Directions to Make The Pastries:

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (218C).
Prepare 2 cooking sheets for baking.  Lightly spray with cooking spray, or use silicone mats for baking or parchment paper.   Sift the flour onto a sheet of wax paper. 

Italian Cream Puffs for St. Joseph's Day by 2sistersrecipes.com

2.  In a medium saucepot, heat butter with water and salt over high heat.  Stir until the butter is completely melted.

3.  Reduce the heat to low, add sifted flour – all at once – and with a fork or wooden spoon, stir vigorously, until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a smooth ball.

4.  Remove from heat, and transfer the dough into a mixing bowl to cool, for about 1 to 2 minutes.  Then add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously (with a wooden spoon), and after each egg until the mixture comes to a smooth and creamy texture. (NOTE: You will get an “arm workout” doing this). Continue to stir until the mixture is well blended. The soft mixture should have a “satin-like sheen” to it.

5.  Drop by tablespoon (I used 2 spoons to help me scoop and drop the dough onto the baking sheet), about 3-inches apart onto each baking sheet. Try to make each one round with points up in the center.

6.  BAKE for 18 to 20 minutes for 18 medium size pastries.

7.  Remove and poke each pastry on top with a skewer.  This will allow the steam inside to escape. Then return them to the oven to bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.  Pastries should be firm to the touch.

8.  Remove and set aside to cool completely before filling.  Once the pastries are completely cooled, fill them with either cream, top each with a cherry, and refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours before serving. Yields: 18 to 20 Italian pastries/cream puffs

Important Tips & Storing:

  • Both recipes for the cream fillings are in our recipe card located on the bottom.
  • Best to “chill” the cream fillings for about 2 hours, or overnight before filling the pastries.
  • When ready to serve them, slice each pastry in half.  Fill each one with cream and close the tops.
  • Garnish on top with an extra dab of cream, and add one maraschino cherry. 
  • Optional: also add a piece of candied citrus on top.
  • Keep them chilled before your guests arrive. Then just before you serve, lightly sprinkle powdered sugar over them and serve.

Tricks to Make Them Perfect

  • The pastry shells can be baked one day ahead and kept in a dry area, uncovered.
  • Also, both cream fillings can be prepared and chilled in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • Do not fill the pastries with the cream filling until you are ready to serve them.
  • Best to add the cream filling the day you plan to serve them, and up to 2 hours before serving. Then chill, uncovered.
  • Cream puffs are best consumed the day you make them. They will stay fresh for up to 24 hours, kept chilled. After 24 hours, their pastry shell will start to soften.
  • Also, if you plan to use ONLY Vanilla cream filling for all these pastries? You will need to use the Family size box (5.1 ounce, 144grams) of Instant Vanilla Pudding, blended with 1.5 cups of whole milk. Then fold it with our homemade whipped cream.
Italian Cream Puff's on a long white serving platter.

These Italian Cream Puffs for St. Joseph’s Day are light, airy, and filled with a luscious creamy filling. 

Whether you choose the Neapolitan or Sicilian version, these recipes won’t disappoint!!  Plus, you will honor St. Joseph’s Day!

To all our family, friends, and loyal followers who are named Joseph and Josephine, we wish you a Happy Name Day on St. Joseph’s Day!!

Enjoy!

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Yield: 18 to 20 cream puffs

Italian Cream Puffs for St. Joseph's Day

Italian Cream Puff's on a long white serving platter.

Italian Cream Puffs are always made around this time of year and especially on March 19th, the Feast of San Giuseppe, St. Joseph's Day. These delicate Italian Cream Puffs are baked - instead of fried - then they are filled with luscious cream. Yum!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

Ingredients To MAKE the PASTRY:

  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup ( 177grams) water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup ( 96grams) sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs

Ingredients For RICOTTA FILLING:

  • 3 + 1/2 cups (875grams) whole milk ricotta cheese (I used Galbani), drain any liquid
  • 1 cup (130grams) confectioners sugar, and extra for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • small jar of maraschino cherries, rinse and pat dry
  • Optional: candied citrus to garnish

Ingredients For the VANILLA CUSTARD FILLING:

  • 1 box (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup (240grams) milk
  • 1 cup (231grams) heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. confectioners sugar, and extra to garnish
  • maraschino cherries, to garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (218C).
  2. Prepare 2 cooking sheets for baking. Lightly spray with cooking spray, or use silicone mats for baking or parchment paper.
  3. In a medium saucepot, heat butter with water and salt over high heat.
  4. Stirring until butter is completed melted.
  5. Reduce the heat to low, add sifted flour - all at once - and with a fork or wooden spoon, stir vigorously, until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a smooth ball.
  6. Remove from heat, transfer the dough into a mixing bowl to cool, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously (with a wooden spoon) after each addition until it comes to a smooth and creamy texture. The soft mixture should have a satin-like sheen to it.
  7. Drop by tablespoon (I used 2 spoons to help me scoop and drop the dough onto the baking sheet), about 3-inches apart onto each baking sheet. Shaping each one round with points up in the center.
  8. BAKE for 18 to 20 minutes for 18 medium size pastries.
  9. Remove and prick each pastry on top with a skewer. This will allow the steam inside to escape. Then return to the oven for 2 to 3 minutes more. Pastries should be firm to the touch.
  10. Remove and set aside to cool completely before filling. Once they are completely cooled, fill them with the cream, top each with a cherry and refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours before serving.
  11. Yields: 18 to 20 Italian pastries/cream puffs

For Ricotta Cream Filling:

  1. In a mixing bowl, gently stir ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and cinnamon until well combined. Stir in mini chocolate chips, or more to your liking. Refrigerate for about 2 hours,
  2. or chill overnight before filling the pastries.
  3. When ready, slice each pastry in half. Fill each one with ricotta cream and close the tops. Garnish with an extra teaspoon of ricotta cream on top, and add one maraschino cherry on top. Optional: also add a piece of candied citrus on top. Lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar over them and serve.
  4. Yields: 3.5 cups

For Vanilla Custard Filling:

  1. In a blender, blend on low speed, 1 cup of milk with 1 package of instant vanilla pudding. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, beat heavy cream and vanilla for 2 to 3 minutes, until it forms peaks, add in powdered sugar and beat for 1 to 2 minutes more. Fold in the vanilla pudding. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, slice each pastry in half, fill cream puffs, close with tops. Add a teaspoon more of vanilla custard on top. Top each with a maraschino cherry and sprinkle with some powdered sugar. Serve.
  4. Yields: 3.5 cups

Notes

1. Remember, you can make the ricotta cream or vanilla custard fillings one day ahead and then fill each pastry and chill before serving.

2. Cream puffs stay fresh, and refrigerated up to 3 days. Keep in mind, their pastry will soften after 24 hours.

3. Also, if you plan to use ONLY Vanilla cream filling for all these pastries? You will need to use the Family size box (5.1 ounce, 144grams) of Instant Vanilla Pudding, blended with 1.5 cups of whole milk. Then whip 1 pint (473ml) of Heavy Whipping Cream, with 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar. Then fold the whipped cream into the vanilla pudding, until well combined.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20 cream puffs

Serving Size:

1 Cream Puff

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 108Total Fat: 5.8gSaturated Fat: 3.4gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 90mgCarbohydrates: 10.7gFiber: .1gSugar: 6.1gProtein: 3.6g

Did you make this recipe?

Mention @2sistersrecipes on Instagram or tag #2sistersrecipes!

 

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23 Comments

    1. Hi Arlene!
      These cream puffs will be the size of the Sicilian Sfinge. The size of a baseball. They may appear smaller in the photos, but we think they are large enough.
      Try baking the first batch, and see how large they turn out. Then you can increase the amount of pastry dough to make them larger, but keep in mind, they may need additional time to bake them.
      I hope this helps! Enjoy and Happy Baking! 🙂

  1. I am making these for Christmas Eve but I was wondering if I can make the puffs say the day before and not fill until Christmas Eve……

    1. Hi Marianna,
      That’s a good question. If I had to guess, I think it’s best to make the cream and puffs the day before, and keep the cream in a container chilled in the fridge. And store the puffs on a baking sheet or tray, and in a dry area, lightly covered with clear wrap. Then fill them on Christmas. Also, it’s best to fill only one hour or less before serving. The cream will make the puffs softened the longer they sit with them filled.
      I hope this helps! Merry Christmas!! Xo

  2. Had some wonderful croissants w/creme filling in Italy….and am hoping one of the two fillings are as good. Waiting till after Lent to try these…but what a temptation!! Happy St. Joseph’s Day!

    1. Thank you, Michele! And welcome to our recipe blog, it’s so nice to meet you! 🙂 Enjoy and Have a safe and delicious St. Joseph’s Day!

    1. We do too! Thanks so much, Sherry. Hope you will try our recipe soon. Have a great day!

  3. Cream puffs always remind me of my mom. We loved when she made them and I’m sure if she knew they were traditional for St. Joseph’s Day, she would have made them for us on his feast day! Your fillings sound terrific!

    1. Thanks so much, Liz! I’m so glad these cream puffs bring happy thoughts and memories of your mom. The fillings are simple, yet perfect for these cream puffs. Enjoy!

  4. I love all of the special Italian sweets for St. Joseph’s Day. In the midst of everything going on right now, I failed to prepare anything. I do hope and pray for your well-being and safety my bella amici!
    Ciao,
    roz

    1. Thank you Roz for all your good wishes and prayers!! We all need them now more than ever. Wishing the same for you and your beautiful family, be well and safe! Xo

    2. Thank you Roz! We wish you and your beautiful family well and safe! Have a great weeK!

    1. Haha, sadly we don't have an Italian bakery here in Charleston that makes them. But in NY you can enjoy these creme puffs all year long. Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks Sue! I made him very happy especially since we can't find a bakery in Charleston that makes these cannoli-cream filled Sfinges.

  5. I know I would love both versions of these cream puffs! They are gorgeous and worthy of any special celebration. I love how certain foods can bring back childhood memories- they are the best! 🙂

  6. Look at you! These are gorgeous!! I've always wanted to make cream puffs but can't tell you why I still haven't. Amazing and beautiful and I bet they taste fantastic. Bravo!!! Have a wonderful weekend ladies 🙂

    1. Thank you Tricia! You are so sweet! Making these cream puffs are so easy, you 'll see- I promise. Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂