Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 7th December 2012

Have you ever indulged in the thick creaminess of Italian Hot Chocolate? With this cold weather I thought I would share one of the most enticing hot beverages enjoyed in bars across Italy. Bar, hot chocolate? May seem like an odd place to enjoy hot chocolate but the bars in Italy are different to what we’re used to experiencing here in North America. It’s not only a place to enjoy alcohol but espresso, sandwiches, pastries and gelato. And for this very reason I thought I would pair the hot chocolate with a popular sweet treat from Naples, Potato Zeppole rolled in Cinnamon Sugar. Plus these light and fluffy Italian doughnuts are perfect for dipping.

A picture of Potato Zeppole rolled in cinnamon sugar displayed on a white cake stand.

I’m not much of a bar goer but when in Italy I can often be found at the local bar. It’s like a social hub and it’s not at all uncommon to visit several times throughout the day. Enjoy an espresso with pastry in the morning or “panini” (sandwich) at lunch. And on a hot summer day there’s nothing better than a scoop of creamy gelato.

A photo of Italian Hot Chocolate in small glass espresso cups served with Potato Zeppole that have been rolled in cinnamon sugar.

If my dreams come true you’ll find me living half of the year in Europe some day exploring all the history and traditions. If not for my family I think I would’ve packed up the kids long ago. It’s not that I don’t like Canada but I have this deep desire to explore my roots. I often think it’s because I was young, a baby, when my family moved from Europe.

A photo of Potato Zeppole on a baking tray with cinnamon sugar for rolling doughnuts.

I’ve heard all the stories from my older brothers and sisters and I want to experience what I’ve missed. My younger sister, Nadia, and I are the only ones out of the bunch that didn’t experience some of our childhood (or adulthood) in Europe.

A photo of stacked Cinnamon Zeppole on a black slate board.

Italian Hot Chocolate is thicker than North American hot chocolate almost like a pudding and best enjoyed with a spoon. It’s most often topped with sweetened whipped cream but by all means top with marshmallows or better yet homemade artisan marshmallows like mocha or coconut.

A photo of Italian Hot Chocolate in a glass mug topped with sweetened whipped cream.

I’ve prepared a plain hot chocolate here to serve with the Cinnamon Zeppole but you could flavour it with espresso, caramel, cinnamon, liqueur, almond, or hazelnut. It’s typically prepared with whole milk but you could use a combination of milk and cream for added richness.

A photo of Italian Hot Chocolate served in tall glasses with Potato Doughnuts.

Potato Zeppole can be shaped, filled and topped just like typical doughnuts but they have a far lighter and fluffier texture than the flour doughnut. The dough is soft and extremely sticky and can be frustrating to work with but having said this I still prefer to make doughnut dough by hand. Believe me the end result is worth it.

A photo taken looking down on Cinnamon Doughnuts in cinnamon sugar.

Like most doughnuts they are best enjoyed on the day they are made. This dough makes quite a few probably more than can be consumed in one day making them the perfect treat to share. I have yet to come across anyone that wouldn’t be thrilled to receive a plate of freshly made homemade doughnuts.

A photo of Cinnamon Zeppole displayed with Italian Hot Chocolate.

I’m hoping to soon share another Italian doughnut that we enjoy traditionally at Christmas time, Scarpelle. Scarpelle dough is flavoured with rosemary and is also prepared with potatoes but fresh yeast is a must according to my Mom. These fried treats have a crispy exterior and fluffy interior and are sprinkled with sugar. Unfortunately the ones I’ve made so far don’t at all resemble the texture I’m used to but they would make the best doorstoppers.

A photo of Italian Hot Chocolate displayed in a tall glass with swivel stick on a dessert dish with Potato Zeppole.

Thankfully mom is coming over soon to share her secrets and we’re going to spend the afternoon making scarpelle. The wonderful thing about scarpelle is that unlike regular doughnuts they can be reheated and they taste just as good as the day they were made. My mom always makes a huge batch and freezes them. It’s a great treat to have on hand over the holidays when family and friends are stopping by unexpectedly because they can be reheated in a hot oven (although my sister, Anna swears the toaster oven is better) directly from the freezer.

A photo taken looking down on cinnamon sugar rolled Potato Doughnuts.

Happy Weekend!

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Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Bevande e Cocktail, Beverages and Cocktails, Dolci Fritti, Eggs, Fried Desserts, Mini Desserts, Pasticcini, Pastries, Piccola Pasticceria, Recipes, Ricette di Base, Yeast Breads & Yeast Dough

Comments (26)

26 Responses to “Potato Zeppole and Italian Hot Chocolate {Zeppole di Patate e Cioccolato Calda}”

  1. Mariam Says:

    Yum! I love Italian thick hot chocolate! It’s so good! I make them at home and get it at cafes, as for the donuts, I don’t think I’d be ablej to tackle them! But I wanna make churros soon, even though I really hate frying!

  2. Gemma Says:

    Wow! Grace these potato zeppole look so delicious! I’m sure they’re pretty addictive…they must be so tender and fluffy…it’s almost midnight in Spain and I’m starting to get hungry (really hungry) after looking at your pics and reading your great recipe! Hot chocolate is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world, especially in winter (btw, in Spain hot choco is as thick as the italian! So yummy!).
    xoxox
    G.

  3. marcellina Says:

    How delicious! I have never had homemade Italian hot chocolate! It looks so good! I will try it!

  4. Grace Says:

    Good Morning! Marcellina you’re in for a real treat, make sure you have some cookies or doughnuts for dipping.

  5. Grace Says:

    Hi Gemma what a coincidence that you mention this very thing this morning because when I first shared on Google+ one of my friends asked if it was similar to Spanish Hot Chocolate. I was so intrigued I had to do some research and in fact they are one and the same. I believe it is a treat we inherited from our Spanish friends. Hope you’re enjoying a wonderful holiday season, all the best!

  6. lyly Says:

    Grace, your potato zeppole look so Yummy !. Also I finally own your book now which was given to me as Birthday gift. I just love it !!!

  7. Grace Says:

    Good Morning Lyly, you must try these when you have some time I always get rave reviews, the kids say they taste like Elephant Ears.

  8. Grace Says:

    p.s. Lyly I’m so happy you love the book!

  9. Maura Says:

    Hi Grace,
    I’ve just made the dough for these zeppole. They are now on the first fermentation and, I have to admit, it has been a…sticky business to get to that point!!! Hehe. Jokes aside, I’m glad you warned us about the dough being sticky, or I would have been tempted to add flour (and lots of it for that matter), but I resisted that urge and carried on. I make my own pizza and bread from scratch every week and I expected to use the same kneading method, I soon relized that I had to use my fingers, rather the the palm of my hand.
    Anyway, I just thought I’d mention this, for those who are not used to knead by hand, only to support what you already explained so clearly.
    I’ll let you know how they turn up (I’ll have to read the part about the baking paper again, I find it a bit tricky to understand but it would probably make more sense to me as I go along with the recipe

  10. Maura Says:

    PS: How does your mum freeze them, would I need to wrap them individually?

  11. Maura Says:

    Uff, I just wrote a rather long comment and when I tried to send it, it got lost due to an error. Never mind, I think I had written too much anyway ;-)
    I only wanted to let yo know that I made them!!! They are the fluffiest doughnuts I have ever eaten, definitely worth the wait and the trouble. The next time I would start making them in the morning, because I had not given enough time to the all procedure (I only calculated the 4 hours for the fermentation).
    Thank you for your great recipes (tomorrow I will try to make the hot chocolate)

  12. Maura Says:

    PS: (again)can you please tell me how you make the holes? I eventually made them inserting the wrong end of a teaspoon in the middle and pressing hard, helping myself with a finger, but they were not good enough. MAny thanks again and sorry I inundated with all these comments!!!

  13. Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen Says:

    These Italian doughnuts look soooo delicious!! I want one with my tea right now :D Beautiful photography as well.

  14. Grace Says:

    Hi Maura, I was referring to the Scarpelle. I hope to share the recipe soon. These are frozen after deep-frying. So sorry for my late reply Maura, I’ve been having problems logging into my admin area (hosting issue). I could load site but not get into the backend.

  15. Grace Says:

    I am so very happy you enjoyed them, did the baking paper squares make more sense as you were going through the preparation?

  16. Grace Says:

    Hi Maura, the holes are easy, I use the base of a pastry tip, small one for the mini doughnuts and when I didn’t have a large doughnut cutter I would use the base of a large pastry tip. The pastry tip bases are pretty sharp. I meant to note that in the recipe, so sorry, I will update now.

  17. Grace Says:

    Thank you Kristi!

  18. Grace Says:

    p.s. Maura I believe you can freeze yeasted dough but I’ve never tried it. I have done research in the past and if I remember correctly you must double the amount of yeast. The procedure for preparation is the same but after cutting doughnuts you would place on greased paper (again I would use the baking paper squares) and place in an airtight container (preferably 3 inches deep to allow room for second rise). When you are ready to enjoy, remove from freezer, uncover and loosely cover container with plastic wrap, place in a warm place away from drafts. Let rise for the second time. Then deep-fry as usual. I think I should try it next time because the dough makes a lot of doughnuts, like I said I usually share but it would be nice to have some on hand in the freezer to enjoy whenever the craving hits. Also would be nice if you know you’re having house guests, you could prepare the dough in advance and merely remove day of serving to fry off. I will post about it after testing. This process would also be good for bread making, setting aside one day to knead enough dough for 10 to 12 loaves then you could have fresh, warm out of the oven bread every couple of days or so.

  19. lapiubelladitutte Says:

    Having tried the perfection of the creaminess of the Italian chocolate, I would definitely go for this little bites!

  20. Maura Says:

    Hi Grace,
    no need to apologise, you always reply and I find it very generous of you. Thank you for the advices. In the end, the paper squares did make sense, althoug, having my daughter right next to me, did make things a bit slower that I would have wanted. I ended up putting the doughnuts on the uncut baking paper in the baking tin, only when I needed to cook them I cut it in squares while they were in the tin itself.
    I hope I am making sense…I feel very sleepy and it is long past my bedtime…As the italians would say, “Vado a letto con le galline!;-)”. Forgive me but right now I can’t think of an equivalent in english.

  21. Grace Says:

    What a great idea Maura, I’m having one of those knock my forehead moment, why didn’t I think of that? It never occurred to me to cut the squares right in the pan. I love the holidays but it’s definitely a stressful time and so busy. Hope you have a wonderful holiday Maura, all the best to you and your family.

  22. Maura Says:

    Thank you Grace,
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family too.

  23. sosoo Says:

    I tasted an Italian hot chocolate once here in Saudi Arabia (Cioconut Lounge), it costs a fortune but then it was so heavenly that I can’t forget it. Now I’ve found the recipe that I can always make whenever my taste buds look for one. THANKS TO YOU!

  24. Cocoa Hernando Says:

    Lovely recipes to accompany chocolate. I shall be in touch when I’ve made the Zeppole!

  25. Grace Massa Langlois Says:

    Wonderful! Thank you I look forward to the feedback.

  26. Kyle Says:

    These look so delicious Grace!! What an awesome presentation too!!

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