Prior to this challenge, I can’t say I had ever tried or even heard of Sofficini. I am always looking to learn and experience new things, so this challenge had an air of excitement to it for me. Of all the things I could fill these with, I decided I would use a favorite cheese combination of mine I normally use to stuff ravioli and manicotti.
After dropping the kids off at school, I set out to buy my missing ingredients. I went into the grocery store I had worked at while going to college. This way I knew right where everything would be, and seeing old friends often sets the day off to a decent start. I had thoughts of bringing some of the sofficini back to the store with my well wishes, but later I thought better of it being as how this was my first experience making these.
I decided to make the sauce first. I figured I needed about 10 or 12 of these to feed my family, so I doubled the recipe. Since I was making these at my mom’s house, she was present for the first few minutes I began to cook to shout advice at me. I could tell it was killing her to watch me cook something in her kitchen. Eventually the paranoia caught up to her and she left to go out shopping (within about 5 minutes of my beginning). I used 4 tbsp of butter and 4 tbsp of flour to start the bechamel sauce. I melted the butter and added the flour slowly while whisking constantly. I allowed the mixture to come to a boil and continued to cook over the heat for one more minute (mom’s advice before she left). I then added the milk to the mixture slowly continually whisking and salted to taste. I brought this to a boil and when it began to thicken, I removed it from the heat and added one jar of basil/tomato pasta sauce to the bechamel. I was very pleased with the flavor of this sauce upon tasting. Thoughts raced through my mind about other possibilities this sauce could have.
I made the dough next per the recipe and without incident. I set the dough aside to cool after kneading it a few times. While cooling, I prepared the cheese mixture. To begin, I chopped and cooked some fresh baby spinach leaves in a frying pan for a few minutes and squeezed the water out of them. Then I mixed the following in a bowl with the spinach: 15 oz Ricotta cheese, 1/2 lb Mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 egg, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp garlic salt, and 1/2 tsp dried basil.
I rolled out the dough and cut into circles about 5 inches in diameter. I added about 1 tbsp cheese/spinach mixture and 1 tbsp of the sauce to the center of each circle, folded it over, and crimped it together with the end of a fork (I felt like I was making mini calzones at this point). After I got about half way through, I realized the recipe makes WAY too much sauce for the amount of dough present. One could cut the amount of sauce down by a factor of 4 to be closer to the amount actually used. Perhaps I will get to exercise some of those other uses for the sauce I was previously pondering…
Finally, I dipped them in the beaten egg , coated them with plain breadcrumbs, and pan fried them in canola oil. It only took about 1 minute of frying on each side to cook them. My double recipe ended up making about 20 of these with some excess filling and a lot of extra sauce. I fried about half of them and froze the rest for another day. I was very happy with the end result! Immediately after having my first sample of these, I proceeded to eat 3 of them. They were delicious! The family concurred. My only regret is not having discovered these sofficini sooner! Cheers!