Pineapple Fritters and Hot Dark Chocolate
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A celebration in the City on the Water is in progress, though not here in Jacksonville, well not yet. Carnevale di Venezia is a two or three week event in the city of Venice, Italy that ends the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. This year it ends on the March 8; it is similar to a Mardi gras party. Carnevale is all about the costume balls and the canals of Venice with the atmosphere of dinners, music and dancing. Although costumes are not essential almost everyone celebrating in the streets wears a mask or face paint. Venice is situated in the northeast corner of Italy, just as Jacksonville is in Florida.
The Local Station Channel 4 here in Jacksonville reported that talks are going on for possible development of downtown Jacksonville. A great draw would be to have an annual Carnival to revive downtown on the water just as it was brought back to Venice in the 1980s; being Italian isn’t necessary to enjoy this great party. New Orleans has Mardi gras and Tampa has Gasparilla, Jacksonville the City on the Water can transform into Venice for a weekend each year for mid-winter fun.
Special dessert treats are specific to the Festival in Venice. They are a fruit filled fritelle and a luscious hot Italian chocolate drink. The fritelle for Carnevale is a small fried cake made from a soft ricotta cheese batter that contains chopped fruit. This little but yummy delicacy has been called Zeppole and is also spelled Frittelle with two t‘s. This treat can be made from ricotta as this recipe is or some recipes are made from yeast bread. They are also known to be served in some regions of Italy on Christmas Eve.
The hot chocolate drink (cioccolata) is cooked on the stove top; it does not come from an envelope or the microwave. This chocolate confection is very rich and dark, a drink that is a dessert in itself. A backyard Carnevale event by the pool can be created by involving children in mask making and taking part in the stirring and mixing of fritelle and coating them with powdered sugar and eating and drinking the cocoa of course. Buon Appettite!
Sunsweet has a 6 oz pack of dried pineapple; the pieces are soft in texture
Dice pineapple pieces with kitchen shears
Sorrento makes a Velvety Smooth whole milk ricotta
A 10” fry pan can be used for cooking
Heat oil and pan gradually, hot burning oil will taint the flavor of the cookie
Drop test piece of dough in oil to determine readiness of oil
Use teaspoonfuls of dough making a small cake so the inside will cook
Pampered Chef has a sugar sprinkler that makes topping easy
Recipe for Fritelle
2 Tbsps sugar
1# ricotta whole milk cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix baking powder, flour and pineapple together in a separate bowl
1 ¼ cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
¾ cup diced dried pineapple
2 cups canola oil for frying
In a large mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, cheese and vanilla until creamy; using the Velvety Smooth ricotta makes a creamy batter with less work; then add dry ingredients to cheese mixture and beat by hand until well blended, if using a free standing mixer this does not have to be done by hand, this dough is too heavy for a hand held
Drop in heated oil by the teaspoonful a little bigger than the size of a donut hole, do not over fill the frying pan with spoonfuls of batter and crowd the cooking fritelle; when cooked to a golden brown remove from pan and place in a paper towel lined dish to absorb excess oil; this is not a sweet cake, it is more like a plain donut, when slightly cool sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar to add sweetness.
Use Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips, instead of chopping thick bars of chocolate
Regular granulated sugar can be used
Milk lower in fat can be used for personal preference
Burnt chocolate cannot be fixed or doctored with other flavors, once burnt it is ruined
Recipe for Italian Hot Chocolate:
2 tsps corn starch
4 cups of whole milk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
4 Tablespoons fine sugar
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
In a small bowl dissolve corn starch in ½ cup of milk; on low heat combine remaining milk, vanilla and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, add the corn starch mixture, whisking until the entire mixture thickens slightly. Whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth, whisking constantly, the whisking will create a frothy topping when poured; do not allow chocolate to burn. Serve in small cups.
For 2 servings divide all the ingredients by 4; 8oz serves two people