Sunday, December 14, 2014

Happy Hanukah: Chocolate Sufganiyot

Chanukkah (Hannukah, Hanukah) starts this week. Chanukkah is the Jewish Holiday of Lights that celebrates the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabees defeated the Syrian army in 165 BC and forced them out of Jerusalem. There was only enough oil for one day to rededicate the eternal flame, but the oil burned for eight days and nights. A miracle! So Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days.

One of the special foods at Chanukah time is Sufganiyot (singular: sufganiyah): deep fried donut balls stuffed with jelly, or custard (for this blog that would be chocolate custard) and topped with sugar. Of course, you can also stuff them with dark chocolate! I didn't grow up with this tradition, but any food that's fried and stuffed is good in my book. Sufganiyot are really an Israeli tradition, but they've gained popularity in the U.S. 

There are many recipes for Sufganiyot. Go here for a yeasted Sufganiyot Dough recipe or here on Epicurious (remember to stuff with chocolate) or this recipe from Amanda Gold in the Chronicle.

I'm a huge fan of Katrina's Vosges Haut-chocolate blog, and she posted a fabulous recipe for Sufganiyot, chocolate filling, of course, in 2009.  Be sure and visit her blog for insights. She, like I, thinks that Sufganiyot are a lot like Beignets. So you might want to check out this simple no frying, no yeast dough recipe I posted for Chocolate Beignets. Make them ahead and pop them in the oven when your guests get there.

Chocolate Sufganiyot from Vosges Haut-chocolat

3/4 cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
1 envelope active dry yeast (1 scant tablespoon)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for coating
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, separated
2 Tbsp sweet butter, room temperature
peanut oil, for frying plus more for bowl
1/4 cup Vosges Haut-Chocolat Candy Bar

In large metal bowl, stir together warm water and yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt; mix until well combined. Add egg yolks and remaining 1 3/4 cups flour. Mix until combined, then knead dough in bowl until all flour is incorporated. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead a few minutes until smooth. Knead in margarine until incorporated.

Transfer dough to a well-oiled bowl; turn dough several times to coat entirely with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to form doughnuts, remove dough from refrigerator to let come to room temperature. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into an 11 inch square about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2 inch cookie cutter (or a glass), cut out about 24 rounds, dipping cutter in flour as needed to prevent sticking. Re-roll scraps and cut out about 16 more rounds.

Line a baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg whites. Brush edge of a dough round with egg white, then mount 1/2 teaspoon chocolate bar pieces in center, or both. Top with another round and press edges to seal. Repeat process with remaining rounds. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; let doughnuts rise until puffy, 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat a few inches of oil in a large (4-5 quart) heavy pot until it registers 360 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer or a scrap of dough sizzles upon contact. Working in batches of 4 to 5, carefully slip doughnuts into hot oil. Fry, turning once until golden brown about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain.

Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. While doughnuts are still hot, toss them in sugar, turning to coat. Serve immediately.

Sufganiyot Photo: Vosges Haut Chocolat

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