Here's a recipe for Zeppole from a class I took with an instructor who was born in Abruso, Italy and is a pastry chef:
● 2/3 cup Hot water
● 5 Tbs Unsalted butter, melted
● 1/4 tsp Salt
● 2/3 cup All purpose flour
● 2 tsp Granulated sugar
● 3 large Eggs
● Grated zest of 1 Orange (about 1 1/2 – 2 Tbs)
Oil for deep frying (see Hints for Success)
Toppings: Confectioner’s sugar, Honey, or Cinnamon Sugar
Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium size pot and cook over medium heat until boiling. Add the flour all at once and mix well. Continue to cook the flour mixture over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture dries and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. This should take about 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour the paste into a medium size mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the sugar and orange zest.
To fry the zeppole, heat the oil to 350°-375°F. Dip a tablespoon in the hot oil, scoop out a spoonful of dough, and drop the dough into the hot oil or use a small cookie scoop to drop spoonfuls of dough into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the zeppole until crisp and golden brown, turning as needed to cook all sides. Drain the cooked zeppole on a pan or plate covered with paper towels. Lightly dust the zeppole with confectioner’s sugar, drizzle warm honey over the zeppole, or roll in cinnamon sugar. Serve warm.
Hints for Success with Fried Pastries
• Use oils with a high smoke point. Olive oil with a mild flavor is a good choice. Canola and safflower oils also have a high smoking point. Using these oils allows you to continue frying for a relatively long time before the oil begins to break down and foam.
• Use a large pan for deep frying and fill no more than half way with oil.
• Use low to medium heat for heating the oil. Use a thermometer to check the temperature (350°-375°F). If the oil is too hot, the outside will be cooked and the center may be still raw. If the oil is not hot enough, the dough will absorb the oil and be greasy.
• Make sure the dough to be fried is not totally covered in flour. The excess flour will burn, accumulate in the pan, and cause the fats to break down.
• Have a slotted spoon or wire skimmer and pan covered with paper towels close by when you start frying the pastries.
I realize you've already done a web search, but if you overlooked this one you missed something special from Giada De Laurentiis
Don't overcook the butter/salt/ sugar/water/flour mixture. As soon as that butter/water/salt/sugar mix comes to a boil, get it off the heat pronto.