ABOVE: Frittelle alla crema on a nautical-themed plate. INSET BELOW: Up close and personal with our daughter's Venetian-style pastries.
by Durant Imboden
A few days ago, our daughter, Cedar Imboden Phillips, cooked me a birthday surprise: a platter of frittelle, the pastries that Venetians enjoy during Venice Carnival. She made the cream-filled version, with frying assistance from her sister-in-law, Erin Phillips Lauinger, and a Frittelle alla crema recipe from Cookinvenice.com. (Cook in Venice is owned by two women on the Venetian mainland who offer cooking classes as well as a "Food and Ghost Tour" in Venice.)
The frittelle were delightful, and our daughter offered a practical tip: When making frittelle alla crema, pipe the filling into the pastries immediately before eating. This way, if you aren't planning to devour the entire batch in one sitting, you can store the pastry cream in the refrigerator while keeping the unfilled frittelle at room temperature to minimize sogginess.
Note: Frittelle recipes vary quite a bit. Many pastry cooks dust frittelle with confectioners' sugar, others use granulated sugar, and some leave the pastries unadorned. Frittelle fanciers have also been known to debate ferociously about whether pine nuts should be used in filled frittelle (as opposed to frittelle veneziane, which are solid). As for me, I'll take frittelle however and whenever I can get them--even in the hot month of July.