When I was 15 years old I made my first trip to Italy.  Since then I have made two more trips, but it was my first trip that I remember trying one of the best little bites of food I have ever tasted, Crema Fritta.  The hotel we were stayed in on the east coast of Italy served typical 2 hour lunches that had at least 3 courses.  I remember after the last course going up to the dessert table and trying these fried squares of cream. They were absolutely addicting. Even the following two times I went back to Italy, including Venice, where I think they are the most famous for crema fritta, I did not find these sweet little morsels of goodness.  Even though it has been about 20 years since first trying them, I can still remember the flavor and how good they were.  Since I haven't had them since then, my wife and I were craving something sweet since the birth of our little baby boy, and I never see them in Italian restaurants, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to prepare them.   Really this a very simple recipe that is basically a really thick pastry cream that is breaded and fried with the addition of lemon.  This recipe is the ultimate bite size craving that can satisfy any sweet tooth.

2 cups milk

1 small vanilla bean

4 egg yolks

3/4 cup of sugar

1 lemon zest

1 tsp of lemon extract

1/2 cup of flour 

1/4 cup of corn starch

2 cups flour for breading

2 cups ground panko bread crumbs

egg wash

Oil for frying

For the Crema Fritta

Pour milk and lemon zest into a small sauce pot.  Cut vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the pot along with the milk and scraped vanilla bean.  Bring to a boil and turn off.  Meanwhile in a kitchen aid mixer add egg yolks and sugar.  Mix on high speed for about 3 minutes until light yellow and fluffy.  Sift together both flours (flour and cornstarch) and add it to the egg yolk mixture.  Then slowly temper the egg and flour mixture with the milk mixture.  Once you have all the milk mixed with the egg and flour pour all of the custard back into the pot.  On low heat, stirring constantly, slowly heat the mixture to thicken the custard and cook out the flour taste.  Should take about 10 minutes roughly to do this.  Once the custard is really thick, pour in the lemon extract and on to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Cool down completely.  Then place the sheet pan into the freezer to become very firm.  Cut the crema fritta into bite size squares.  Place them back into the freezer to insure they are very firm almost frozen. 

Now prepare a basic breading station, one container of flour, one of egg wash, and one of bread crumbs.  Take the crema fritta out of the freezer and place in small batches into the flour, then egg wash, then into the bread crumbs.  From this point you can place back into the freezer until your ready to fry them.  They can last for weeks in the freezer if stored correctly.  

Now your ready to fry them.  Simply add oil to a cast iron skillet and bring up to at least 335 degrees.  Place the crema fritta in small batches into the fryer.  Fry for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Strain off on to a paper towel and serve.  You can dust them with sugar, or cinnamon, or anything else you want but they perfect as is.  Buon Appetito!

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