Pascale's Kitchen: End-of-festival Sweets

Hanukkah is here and sufganiyot are everywhere - here are three different and unique ones to make at home.

 Mini sufganiyot  (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Mini sufganiyot
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Anyone who’s been following my column for some time knows that I absolutely love holidays. I get so excited planning what I’m going to serve and trying out new techniques. Of course, gathering at home and enjoying treats with friends and family and is the best part of festive meals. 

Every year, as soon as the High Holy Days are over, sufganiyot begin popping up in bakeries all over the country. The aroma wafting up from these fried doughnuts, and the beautiful and creative toppings and fillings that adorn these sufganiyot in recent years, can be intoxicating. 

One downside of the appearance of sufganiyot so far ahead of Hanukkah is that some of us get tired of eating them by the time the holiday rolls around. Another issue is their high caloric content, making sufganiyot the scourge of people who are on a diet or trying to eat healthily. All of us have experienced the stress of arriving at the numerous holiday (and pre-holiday) gatherings only to encounter plates piled high with sufganiyot. 

In my mind, holidays are not the time for strict diets, and the partaking of special holiday foods is an important part of celebrating Jewish festivals. To that end, I make an effort to prepare traditional holiday dishes in as healthy a way as possible.

My family happens to be strict about not eating holiday-specific foods before the holiday itself. On Hanukkah, for example, when we all gather together to light the hanukkia and break bread together, everyone is excited to indulge a bit in extremely oily dishes, since we haven’t eaten any sufganiyot yet. 

Another way to remain healthy during Hanukkah is to only eat homemade sufganiyot. I like to prepare regular size sufganiyot, as well as small balls, which makes it easier to eat a small amount of these tasty fried treats. I place bowls with toppings, such as chocolate spread or syrup, in the center of the table, and that way everyone can prepare their sufganiyah exactly how they want. 

Below, you will find three recipes for sufganiyot. I make my sufganiyot using oil, but you are also welcome to use butter instead. The first recipe is for mini sufganiyot, which makes them perfect for enjoying a taste of Hanukkah without consuming too much of this festive treat. 

The second recipe is for easy cheese sufganiyot that are light and fluffy, since the recipe calls for four eggs. It also uses baking powder instead of yeast to achieve the perfect amount of fluffy goodness. I like to use an ice cream scooper so that all the balls come out perfectly round and are the same size. But you can also cover your hands with some oil and shape the balls by hand. 

The third recipe is for loukoumades, which are Greek-style doughnuts that are dipped in a rose water syrup right after they come out of the hot oil. These puffy and light balls are not meant to be symmetrical. Some people like to add yogurt to the dough. 

You can sprinkle powdered sugar on top of them, roll them in a cinnamon-sugar mixture or cover them with sesame seeds or sprinkles before serving. In short, Hanukkah is not the time for counting calories. I recommend that you enjoy eating sufganiyot since this holiday comes around only once a year. 

Happy Hanukkah to all. 

Mini sufganiyot

 Mini sufganiyot  (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Mini sufganiyot (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

These sufganiyot are tasty enough to be eaten on their own, but can also be served with a variety of sweet toppings. 

Makes 30 mini sufganiyot.

3 ½ cups flour, sifted25 gr. yeast4 Tbsp. sugar½ tsp. salt1 large egg3 Tbsp. oil1 tsp. brandy1 Tbsp. lemon or orange zest1 ¾ cups water (or more, depending on rate of absorbency of flour)Oil for deep frying

Toppings: 1 cup chocolate icing1 cup white chocolate icing1 cup syrupCrushed almondsPowdered sugarSprinkles

Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the yeast and sugar, then mix gently. Add the salt and mix. 

Form a well in the center and add the egg, oil, brandy and zest. Mix slowly and then gradually add the water. Mix until the dough falls away from the sides of the bowl. 

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough doubles in volume. 

Take a bit of dough and form a ball with a diameter of between 2 and 3 cm. Prepare similar balls with the rest of the dough. Let the balls rise in a warm place for another 20 minutes or until they double in volume. 

Add the oil to a pot for deep frying and heat. Add a few balls at a time to the hot oil. When the first side is done, flip all the balls over. Remove and place on paper towels. 

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 2.5 hours (including time to let dough rise).Status: Parve.

Table centerpieces

Sugar bowl – Place a large bowl of sugar on the table so guests can roll their sufganiyot in the sugar while they’re still hot. 

Cinnamon – Mix cinnamon with sugar in a bowl. 

Syrup –Add 1 cup of sugar, 2 cups of water and the juice of half a lemon to a small pot. Heat until syrup turns rubbery. You can also add cinnamon, vanilla, rum or dried rose petals. After dipping the sufganiyot in the syrup, you can sprinkle chopped nuts on top of them. 

Gourmet presentation – Prepare chocolate-based creams, and serve alongside Nutella, milk-based icing, marzipan and hazelnut spread. You can also serve little bowls with chocolate shavings, chopped hazelnuts, chopped almonds, chocolate balls and sprinkles. Each guest can dip their sufganiyah in whichever toppings they like. 

Cheese sufganiyot

 Cheese sufganiyot (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Cheese sufganiyot (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Makes 20 sufganiyot.

2 ½ cups flour, sifted500 gr. cream cheese 5% fat4 eggs1/3 cup oil1 tsp. baking powder1 Tbsp. lemon zest1 Tbsp. orange zest¼ tsp. salt½ cup sugarOil for deep frying

Toppings:Powdered sugarRed jamOr any of the toppings listed in previous sufganiyot recipe

Add the flour to a large bowl and then gradually add the rest of the ingredients while kneading the dough. Knead the dough until it’s well mixed. The dough can also be kneaded with the help of an electric mixer. 

Create balls that have a diameter of 4-5 cm. One way to make them uniform in size is to use an ice cream scooper. Cover the balls with a little flour. 

Heat the oil in a large pot, and then add a few balls at a time. Flip them over when the first side is done. When they’re done on the other side,remove the sufganiyot and place them on paper towels. 

Squirt some jam inside and sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Alternatively, you can roll the sufganiyot in a bowl of sugar. 

Level of difficulty: Easy.Time: 30 minutes.Status: Dairy.

Loukoumades (sufganiyot dipped in syrup)

 Loukoumades (sifganiyot dipped in syrup) (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Loukoumades (sifganiyot dipped in syrup) (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Makes 20-25 sufganiyot.

3 1/3 cups flour, sifted2 – 2 ¼ cups water at room temperature1 heaping Tbsp. fresh yeast2 Tbsp. sugarOil for deep frying

Syrup:2 cups (400 gr.) sugar1 ½ cups water1 Tbsp. lemon juice2 Tbsp. rose water or ground cinnamon

Toppings:Powdered sugar or a sugar/cinnamon mixture

Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup of water at room temperature. Add the sugar, mix and let the yeast mixture sit in a warm place for 10 minutes until it has fermented. Pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl and add the rest of the water, while stirring with a whisk. Gradually add the sifted flour while mixing. Mix well. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place for 90 minutes. 

Knead the dough and let it rise another 30 minutes. Knead and let the dough rise another two times. This will help make the dough nice and airy. 

To prepare the syrup, pour the water into a small pot. Add the sugar and lemon juice and cook for 25 minutes. Add the rose water and cook another 5 minutes. Let the syrup cool down. 

Heat a pot with oil that is at least 7 cm. high. Knead the dough one more time. Then, take a wet teaspoon and scoop a bit of dough and place it in the hot oil. When the balls are done on the first side, flip them over. Once they’re cooked on both sides, remove them and place on paper towels. While they’re still hot, dip the balls in the cooled syrup and remove immediately. 

Loukoumades can be served hot or cold. 

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 2.5 hours (including time to let dough rise).Status: Parve.

Frying tips

It’s important to wait until the oil is extremely hot before adding the dough. But make sure the oil doesn’t get so hot it that it begins to burn. 

There’s an easy way to check if your oil has reached the required temperature: Stick a wooden spoon into the oil. If bubbles form around the spoon, the oil is hot enough. You can also take a tiny piece of dough and drop it into the oil. If it floats right away, the oil is hot enough.

A great way to keep your oil clean is to add a carrot or potato to the pot of oil, which will absorb the extra bits of flour. 

Never add cold oil to the pot of hot oil in the middle of frying sufganiyot, since the sufganiyot will absorb the cold oil. Instead, wait until you’ve taken out that batch of sufganiyot, then you can add oil and wait until it heats up before adding more dough. 

Use a slotted spoon to lift the cooked sufganiyot out of the oil so that all the oil can drip down into the pot before you place the sufganiyot on paper towels. 

Translated by Hannah Hochner.