The truth is; I don’t like to watch sports. The only sporting events I go to are my children’s games. Even then, I am the one who needs coaching from my friends on the rules of the games and a quick nudge to tell me when to clap! So you can imagine when we get invited to football parties I am less than inspired…unless good football food will be served. Then my spirits perk up, and I am all in! Nothing is better than hanging out with good friends and good food!
One day I wanted to create something for a party, a bit more “gourmet” than plain ol’ pizza. I know that most people love Italian flavors and that became my inspiration. I have often made cream puffs and beignets. I combined the two concepts and added robust Italian flavors.
At first glance this recipe may seem intimating, but it is actually quite easily to make. I made them originally for football gathering, but they are also great to serve at your fanciest dinner party. Have fun experimenting with different cheeses and meats. You could try prosciutto and Manchego or even brie and country ham; the possibilities are endless! I must warn you, they can be quite addicting. Once you make them, you will be bringing them to every party in the future so make sure you are up to it! This recipe will score BIG points with your family and friends—touchdown!
- ½ cup (1 stick) Challenge Butter
- 1⅓ cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
- ½ pound cooked Italian sausage or diced pepperonis
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- vegetable oil, as needed for frying
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 1 package (8 oz) Challenge Cream Cheese
- ½ cup shredded Italian cheese blend
Bring butter, water and salt to a rolling boil in a saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat and immediately add flour all at once. Use a sturdy spoon and beat vigorously. Mixture will form a ball and pull away from the sides when completed. Gradually beat in half of the egg, followed by half of cheese and cooked sausage or pepperoni. Continue adding the remaining egg, cheese, meat and Italian seasoning, stirring well to incorporate. Let mixture cool.
Using a cookie scoop, a round tablespoon, or a piping bag, create 1 –1 1/2 inch balls of fritter dough. Place them on a piece of parchment paper until needed.
In a small to medium saucepan, add enough vegetable oil to create 3-4 inches in pan. Bring oil to 375 degrees. Carefully lower fritters into pan, only a few at a time. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Continue until all fritters are completed.
To create sauce, combine marinara and cream cheese in a bowl. Microwave until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Stir to combine and top with Italian shredded cheese. Serve sauce with fritters.
Yield: 36 fritters
Note: Fritters are best fried, however an alternate method is to bake them. Place 1½ inch balls of fritter dough on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake in a 400° F oven for 25 minutes or until golden and puffed.