Desserts/ Holiday Treats

Italian Cream Puffs for St. Joseph’s Day

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

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Italian Cream Puffs are always made around this time of year and especially on the day, March 19th to celebrate the Feast of San Giuseppe, St. Joseph’s Day.  If you’ve never had a San Giuseppe cream puff before, you’re in for a real treat!  These cream puffs are light buttery pastries baked then filled with luscious cream and topped with a cherry and some powdered sugar. Yum!

Italian 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 a traditional vanilla custard, which is the Neapolitan version, known as the zeppola or zeppoli. 

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

Each one is topped with a cherry and some powdered sugar, making these look as if a professional baker made them.  And, they are SO amazingly delicious!! 

We always look forward to these wonderful treats every year!

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

What is a Sfinge? 

  • The Sfinge is a very popular 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 all over Italy and here too in the states as well.

And since my husband’s name is Joseph (and 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 his Name Day, St. Joseph’s Day; which in Italy, it is a celebration that is larger than one’s own birthday.

A white platter filled with cream puffs and each topped with a cherry. by 2sistersrecipes.com

Italian Cream Puffs for St. Joseph’s Day are relatively easy to make. You only need a little time and patience.

1.  First, staple ingredients are used to make these delicious pastries:

  • butter
  • eggs
  • flour 

Then, I decided to bake theminstead of deep-frying. 

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

2.  Next, I also wanted to make both 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. 
  • And the Vanilla Custard Cream:  is filled with a simple mixture of vanilla pudding mixed with whipped cream.

… both cream fillings are Super Easy!

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

 

How to Make Italian Cream Puffs for St. Joseph’s Day?

*Follow with our Step-by-Step Directions, or jump down 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 and Bake 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.  Stirring until butter is completed 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, 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.

 

 

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. Shaping each 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 they 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

How to Make Ricotta Cream Filling?

To make the ricotta cream filling, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 3 + 1/2 cups (875g) whole milk ricotta cheese (I used Galbani), drain any liquid
  • 1 cup (130g) 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

Directions to Make Ricotta Cream Filling:

1. In a mixing bowl, gently stir ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and cinnamon until well combined. 

2. Stir in mini chocolate chips, or more to your liking.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours, 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.  Then just before you serve, lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar over them and serve.

Yields: 3.5 cups of ricotta cream

How To Make Vanilla Custard Filling?

For the vanilla custard filling, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 box (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup (244ml) milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (231g) heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar, and extra to garnish
  • maraschino cherries, to garnish

Directions to Make 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 extract 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, 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.

Yields: 3.5 cups of custard

Make Ahead, Storing and Serving…

  • The pastry shells can be baked one day ahead and kept in a dry area, uncovered. Plus, both cream fillings also can be prepared and kept chilled in the refrigerator up to 2 days before.
  • Do not fill the pastries with the cream filling until you are ready to serve.
  • 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 will stay fresh for up to 24 hours, kept chilled. After 24 hours, their pastry shell will start to soften.
Italian Cream Puff's for St. Joseph's Day by 2sistersrecipes.com

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

So luscious, everyone will want to taste both cream puffs.

This recipe makes about 20 cream puffs, enough to share with everyone.

Whether you choose the Neapolitan or Sicilian version of this recipe, the recipe won’t disappoint!!  Plus, you will honor St. Joseph 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!

Don’t forget to PIN it!!

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

More Delicious and Festive Desserts! 

Yield: 18 to 20 cream puffs

Italian Cream Puffs for St. Joseph's Day

One cream puff on a white platter. 2sistersrecipes.com

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 - NOT FRIED - then filled with luscious cream. Yum!

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

Ingredients

Ingredients To Make the Pastry for the Cream Puffs:

  • 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

You can make the ricotta cream or vanilla custard fillings one day ahead and then fill each pastry and chill before serving. Cream puffs stay fresh, refrigerated up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20 cream puffs

Serving Size:

1 Cream Puff

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 108Total Fat: 5.8gCarbohydrates: 10.7gProtein: 3.6g

 

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Happy Baking!  🙂 

Thanks for stopping by!

 xo Anna and Liz

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 cream puff
Servings: 20
Amount per serving 
Calories108
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5.8g7%
Saturated Fat 3.4g17%
Cholesterol 43mg14%
Sodium 90mg4%
Total Carbohydrate 10.7g4%
Dietary Fiber 0.1g1%
Total Sugars 6.1g 
Protein 3.6g 
Vitamin D 5mcg25%
Calcium 57mg4%
Iron 0mg2%
Potassium 40mg1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    arlene koenig
    March 18, 2022 at 1:23 pm

    can I make larger than medium zeppole, 9 with this recipe?

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      March 18, 2022 at 5:02 pm

      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! 🙂

  • Reply
    Marianna
    December 21, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    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……

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      December 21, 2021 at 6:08 pm

      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

  • Reply
    Michele
    March 19, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      March 19, 2021 at 1:19 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    sherry
    March 16, 2021 at 4:56 am

    gotta love a choux pastry! i love cream puffs.

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      March 16, 2021 at 6:03 pm

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

  • Reply
    Liz
    March 14, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      March 15, 2021 at 7:59 am

      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!

  • Reply
    Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina
    March 21, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    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

    • Reply
      2 Sisters Recipes
      March 22, 2020 at 2:17 pm

      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

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      March 23, 2020 at 7:04 am

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

  • Reply
    Sandra Favre-Byles
    March 22, 2018 at 11:40 am

    What wonderful cream puffs!

    • Reply
      by Anna and Liz
      March 22, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Thanks so much Sandra!

  • Reply
    Karen (Back Road Journal)
    March 19, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    These look so yummy…now if only my name was Joseph so that I could eat lots of them. 😀

    • Reply
      annaliz
      March 19, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    March 21, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    You are such a good wife to make this special treat for your husband! They look so good and the ricotta cream sounds especially delicious.

    • Reply
      annaliz
      March 24, 2015 at 1:57 am

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

  • Reply
    Betty
    March 21, 2015 at 3:12 am

    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! 🙂

    • Reply
      annaliz
      March 24, 2015 at 1:54 am

      Thank you Betty! Hope you had a nice weekend!

  • Reply
    Tricia Buice
    March 19, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    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 🙂

    • Reply
      annaliz
      March 21, 2015 at 12:26 am

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

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