Ricotta Crepes: Dita degli Apostoli
Dita degli Apostoli “Apostle’s Fingers”-- weird name, but a truly delicious dessert of Puglia. If you like cannoli, you’ll love these. They’re made with the same sort of filling, but served in crepes rolled to look like fingers. The crepes can be made with either whole eggs or just yolks or just egg whites. Flourless, light and very aromatic.
The ricotta filling varies from town to town in Puglia. Some use dark chocolate bits, others cocoa powder and some just a pinch of cinnamon. Others include minced candied orange peel or orange zest to the ricotta, while some instead stir in several tablespoons of brandied chopped cherries, plus some of the liquid from the cherries and almond slices. However it is prepared, it is essential that the external pancake be very thin, to leave room for the delicious taste of ricotta cream.
This dessert dates to the Middle Ages and as the name suggests there’s a religious link to their origin. They were first prepared for Easter by nuns in the Santa Maria Convent to memory of the fact that St Thomas put his finger into Christ’s wound because he doubted the resurrection.
Traditionally in Puglia they are usually served for Carnival and Easter but are delicious all year long.
For the crepes: In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, 2 tablespoons of the liqueur and pinch of salt, using a whisk or electric handheld mixer, until well combined. Allow to rest for at least 1/2 hour.
Lightly butter a 12-inch, or larger, non-stick frying pan and heat over medium heat. Pour some of the batter into the center of the pan and swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly. Cook on one side just until dry and gently turn over and cook the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter, lightly buttering the pan with each crepe. You should get about three 12-inch crepes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
For the filling: Press the ricotta and sugar through a fine mesh strainer. Put the mixture, along with the chocolate and remaining 1 tablespoon of liqueur into a bowl and using a fork, mix until well combined.
To assemble: Slice the crepes so you have 4 long sections and 2 smaller end sections. Cut the 4 longer sections in half. You’ll get about 10 to 12 sections per crepe, depending on how big a frying pan you used. Put a heaping tablespoon or two of the filling onto each section, spread evenly, and roll into a small cigar shape (“fingers”) Repeat. Refrigerate about 1/2 hour, until cold and firm, before serving. Serve topped with a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar.