Two Chocolate Pignolata Messinese

PignolataM

Pignolata is a Sicilian pastry made of small fried balls of dough that are usually covered in a honey syrup. I will go as far as to say that strufoli, an Italian pastry that hails from Naples, is the same dish. The dish is kind of like sfinci, a type of doughnut (Sicilians call them sfinci and Italians call them zeppole).  Maybe one day someone will realize it is the same dish and the same country and adopt another name!  Who knows?  Pignolata Messinese (from Messina) is a variation in which half of the dough balls are covered with chocolate glaze, and the other half with lemon or another flavored glaze.  In this recipe, the pignolata is baked rather than fried.  This dish is also unconventional in another way; I use both a chocolate ganache icing and a lemon-flavored white chocolate ganache icing, which is less sweet than the traditional glaze.       

Two Chocolate Pignolata Messinese

Difficulty Rating:  Moderate
Makes approximately 12 to 15 servings.

Ingredients:

For the Pignolata Dough:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon limoncello (optional)
4 large eggs

For the Chocolate Ganache Icing:
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

For the Lemon White Chocolate Ganache Icing:
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon Limoncello
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Decorative sprinkles (optional)

Special Equipment:  Large pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip.

Directions:
Make the Pastry Puffs:  Preheat oven to 400° F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Combine the flour and zest in a small bowl and set aside. 

Bring butter and water to boil in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until butter is melted.  Reduce heat to medium and stir in flour mixture all at once.  Using a wooden spoon, stir mixture vigorously and continue cooking until it comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball, about 30 seconds. 

Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in limoncello.  

Beat in eggs one at a time with wooden spoon or hand mixer, beating well after each addition. 

Transfer mixture to pastry bag and pipe small ½-inch mounds of dough, 1-inch apart onto baking sheets.  Use your finger to help break the dough from the tip.  Smooth tops with a slightly damp finger dipped in water.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.  Let cool on baking sheet.

Divide the puffs equally among 2 large bowls.

Make the Chocolate Icing:  Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl.  Heat the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring just to a boil.  Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Stir in vanilla.

Make the Lemon White Chocolate Icing:  Place the white chocolate chips in a small bowl.  Heat the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring just to a boil.  Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Stir in Limoncello, lemon juice, and zest.

Assemble the Pignolata:  Let the chocolates thicken slightly at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Pour the chocolate mixture over one of the bowls of puffs. Stir until a thick even coating is formed.  Spoon onto one half of a large serving platter.  Drizzle any additional icing on top. 

Repeat with coating remaining puffs with the lemon icing and spoon onto the other half of the platter.  Decorate with sprinkles if desired. 

Make Ahead Tip:  Pastry puffs can be made 1 day ahead of time or frozen up to 1 week.  Cool completely and place in an air-tight container before storing.  If necessary, recrisp on baking sheet in a 375°F oven for about 4 to 5 minutes.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,