Thomas Keller has a witty take on coffee and doughnuts at his
restaurant, The French Laundry. This is similarly inspired. Store
the espresso sugar in a dry environment or it will solidify.
125 ml (½ cup)pouring cream60 ml (¼ cup)milkScrapedseeds of 1 vanilla bean225 gm (1½ cups)plain flour, plus extra for dusting1 tbspdried yeast30 gmcaster sugarFor deep-frying/greasing:vegetable oilEspresso sugar200 gmcaster sugar2 tbspespressoMarsala mascarpone375 gmmascarpone60 mlMarsala40 gm (¼ cup)pure icing sugar, sievedScrapedseeds of 1 vanilla bean
For espresso sugar, combine 80gm caster sugar and espresso in a saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, cook until syrup reaches 160C on a sugar thermometer (5-6 minutes), then remove from heat. Pour onto a lightly oiled baking tray and stand until set (20-30 minutes). Break into large pieces, then process in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to an airtight container until required. Just before cooking zeppole, combine in a bowl with remaining sugar, spread on a tray and set aside.
Combine cream, milk and vanilla seeds in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until lukewarm (30 seconds-1 minute). Meanwhile, combine flour, yeast, sugar and a pinch of fine salt in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook, and stir to combine. Add cream mixture, knead until soft and smooth (2-3 minutes), transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (35-40 minutes).
Knock back dough, divide into walnut-sized pieces and roll into smooth balls, then place on a lightly floured tray, cover with a tea towel and stand until risen (30 minutes).
Meanwhile, for Marsala mascarpone, whisk ingredients in a bowl until smooth and combined, refrigerate until required.
Preheat oil in a deep-fryer or deep-sided saucepan to 180C. Deep-fry zeppole in batches, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through (3-4 minutes; be careful as hot oil may spit). Drain with a metal sieve, toss in espresso sugar and serve hot with Marsala mascarpone.