- 1 h 30 min
A delicious sweet brioche with a snowy filling has been all the rage in Naples for a few years now. The name of this recipe, created by Pasticceria Poppella, was chosen to describe its spotless appearance: Meet the snowflake! These cute little domes covered in powdered sugar harbor a light and fluffy ricotta filling with a delicate suggestion of vanilla. The original recipe is jealously guarded by its creators, just like the polacca aversana, a delicacy from the town of Aversa in Campania with close links to another famous pastry shop. We wanted to show you our own version of this sweet, and we’re sure you won’t be disappointed! Don't rush the dough during the leavening process but use the resting time to make the fillings for the snowflakes. Your dedication will be rewarded by these delectable balls of sweetness that are ideal to savor at any time of day.
To make the snowflakes, first dissolve the yeast in the milk at room temperature 1. Then combine both flours 2, the milk containing the dissolved yeast 3,
sugar 4, and the seeds taken from half a vanilla bean 5 in the bowl of a stand mixer. Knead everything at medium speed for a couple of minutes to form a smooth mixture. When the dough starts to stick to the dough hook, add the soft butter a little at a time 6.
Start the mixer again 7. When the butter is nicely absorbed, add the salt 8 and carry on working the dough until it’s well-blended, which will take about five minutes 9.
Then transfer the dough to a lightly floured 10 surface and roll it into a ball 11 with your hands. Transfer back to the bowl of the stand mixer, cover with plastic wrap 12 and leave to leaven for about one and a half hours at room temperature (about 77°-79°F (25-26°C)).
The dough will not double in volume during this time, but it will grow a little 13. Transfer to a work surface, take a portion 14, and cut it into 1 oz (30 g) pieces 15. You should have 28 pieces in total by the time you’ve used up all the dough.
Shape each portion by rolling it on the work surface to make a perfect ball (16-17). Gradually place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them well apart to leave room for them to expand a little more 18. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for another hour and a half, again at room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare the ricotta filling. Pour the whipping cream into a bowl and whip with a hand mixer 19 until stiff 20, then place in the fridge. In another bowl, soften the ricotta using a spatula (or whisk) 21,
then add the powdered sugar 22 and the grated lemon peel 23, and carry on beating until the mixture is smooth and even 24.
Now add the ricotta to the whipped cream that cooled in the refrigerator 25, and fold into the mixture using the spatula, working from the bottom up 26. When the ricotta filling is ready 27, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator.
Now make the milk filling. Pull the milk and sugar into a small saucepan. Place on the heat and stir to dissolve the sugar 28. Add the honey 29 and the seeds from the vanilla bean 30.
Then add the cornstarch, stirring with a spatula to dissolve 31 and beating continuously with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming 32. Cook the sauce for a few minutes until it thickens enough to coat the spatula 33.
Transfer to a wide, shallow bowl 34, cover with plastic wrap, and leave to cool, first at room temperature, then in the fridge. When the balls have risen, beat the egg with the milk for the wash in a small bowl and gently brush the surface of the balls with the resulting mixture 35. Bake in a conventional oven preheated to 350°F (180°C) for about 18 minutes, until the balls are golden brown. In the meantime, take the milk filling, which will now be cold, and beat with a whisk until smooth 36.
Add to the ricotta filling 37 and stir gently from the bottom upwards to ensure it does not separate 38. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a long soft plain piping tip 39. Place back in the refrigerator until ready to use.
As soon as the snowflakes are golden brown, take them out of the oven and let them cool down 40. Then use a plain piping tip to gently pierce the base 41 and squirt in the filling, squeezing the pastry bag continuously 42.
Transfer one by one to a baking sheet 43, then dust with powdered sugar 44 before serving 45.
The snowflakes can be stored for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Dust them with powdered sugar before serving. Unfilled snowflakes can be frozen in a freezer bag.
Fill the snowflakes while they are still slightly warm to make it easier to pack them generously with the ricotta filling.