Yield: 4 to 6 servings
* 1 vanilla bean
* 1/2 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
* 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
* 1 stick butter
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup water
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 4 eggs
* Olive oil, for frying
Cut open the vanilla bean lengthwise. Using the back of a knife,
scrape along the inside of the vanilla bean to collect the seeds.
Scrape vanilla bean seeds into a small bowl. Add the 1/2 cup sugar and
cinnamon and stir to combine. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar,
and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Take pan off the heat and
stir in the flour. Return pan to the heat and stir continuously until
mixture forms a ball, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the flour mixture
to a medium bowl. Using an electric hand mixer on low speed, add eggs,
1 at a time, incorporating each egg completely before adding the next.
Beat until smooth. If not frying immediately, cover with plastic wrap
and reserve in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, pour enough oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of
2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer
registers 375 degrees F.
Using a small ice-cream scooper or 2 small spoons, carefully drop
about a tablespoon of the dough into the hot olive oil, frying in
batches. Turn the zeppole once or twice, cooking until golden and
puffed up, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Toss with
cinnamon-sugar. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.