While cooking, listen to this: Miracle - Matisyahu
Alyssa and I are dedicated to creating foods and recipes that remind us of our Jewish upbringing and culture, which is why for the next couple of weeks we're making Hannukah recipes exclusively. The defining characteristic of a Hannukah food is whether or not it's fried in oil - the miracle of Hannukah is that after the Jewish Temple was destroyed, there was only enough oil for one night to light the menorah, but it lasted eight nights (which is why Hannukah is eight days). We don't recommend eating fried foods for eight days straight, but you must try homemade sufganiyot or latkes at least one during the holiday.
Sufganiyot are a kind of doughnut that Jewish people typically eat during Hannukah, which starts next Tuesday evening if you were wondering. Super traditionally, they're filled with jelly (almost exclusively red - maybe it's strawberry? I don't know. But it's always red) and dusted with powdered sugar. Sometimes, they're identical to say, a jelly doughnut from a popular alliterative doughnut chain. Other times, they taste like bread rolls filled with that sad strawberry filling that maybe you're supposed to dip stuff into? No clue. But they are terrible.
Living in Israel meant that I had complete access to holiday foods that, in the States, could only be found in a kosher specialty shop, or maybe online. Take, for example the sufganiya (singular of sufganiyot) - unless you live in New York or Metro Detroit or another city with enough religious Jews to warrant a kosher bakery, finding a doughnut specifically labeled a sufganiya is impossible. Jelly doughnuts, sure! Sufganiyot? Nope. Was that a word you just said, ma'am, or did you sneeze?
Anyway, Israel comes correct with its holiday food. A few weeks before Hannukah begins, sufganiyot start popping up EVERYWHERE, and I mean EVERYWHERE. Central bus stations, gas stations, supermarkets, road stands - if it's a place that sells food, it most likely sells sufganiyot. Let it be known that the Jerusalem central bus station sufganiyot are KILLER. I know that's a weird thing to say, but it's so true - highly recommend.
The place that really shows up, though, is Roladin, a bakery chain that's known for their batshit crazy sufganiyot. There are pipettes involved, often filled with melted chocolate or cream. There are sprinkles, fillings on fillings, and an absurd amount of oil and sugar. And they don't just look good, they actually taste amazing. I am not a doughnut person - they're so pretty and cute but usually lacking in like, actual taste - but after living in Israel and eating Roladin sufganiyot, I've been reformed. It's a beautiful story - Lifetime, I'm available.
I've always wanted to make sufganiyot at home, and for our blog's first Hannukah I decided now was the time. These sufganiyot are filled with a halva cream, with halva from Seed + Mill and recipe from Molly Yeh, and are dipped with melted chocolate and topped with more halva. My dream is to make Roladin proud, and I think with these we might just have a chance.
Love and meows, Rina
CHOCOLATE HALVA SUFGANIYOT
Yield: about 14 sufganiyot
Active Cook Time: 20m | Rising Time: 1h 40m | Total Cook Time: 2h
Category: Sweet, Donuts, Hannukah
Special Equipment: stand mixer or hand-mixer (optional), cooling rack, piping bag (or zippered plastic bag) and tip
4 ½ teaspoons/2 packets yeast
¼ cup warm water*
¾ cup full-fat milk or milk of choice**
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract (or ½ teaspoon vanilla powder)
¼ cup tahina
Pinch of ground cinnamon
12 ounces halva, chopped (any flavor!), plus more for sprinkling
4 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate, melted
*You want the water to be kind of at bath temperature - warm enough that you're cozy, but not too hot that it hurts. If you're more comfortable using thermometer, heat to 110-115 degrees. Over time, and with practice, a quick finger test will be all you need.
**We used soy milk and they turned out great!
Dissolve yeast: add the warm water to a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Heat milk and butter: in a small saucepan, add the butter and milk and heat on low until butter is completely melted. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Make the dough: add the milk-butter mixture to a large bowl and add in the sugar, egg and egg yolk, salt, yeast mixture and 3 cups flour. Combine using a whisk, wooden spoon or dough hook attachment in a stand mixer. Towards the end I just got in there with my hands. Stir until a soft mass has formed, but don't knead yet! Clean out the bowl you used or grab a new one, lightly grease, and place dough mass inside. Turn over once to ensure a nice oily coat on both sides, and cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Form the sufganiyot: once an hour has passed and the dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 8 times, forming it into a ball as you go. Roll out the dough so that it's about ¼-inch thick, and using a biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut out the sufganiyot. You can re-roll the dough to make more sufganiyot, but be warned that they will have slightly more character and imperfections. They will still be amazing though. Place the sufganiyot on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes.
Make the halva filling: in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, tahina and cinnamon and beat until fluffy and creamy. Add in the halva and beat until incorporated. Set aside.
Heat the oil: add 2 cups of vegetable oil to a heavy-bottomed pot and place on high heat. A trick for knowing when your oil is hot enough is when bubbles start to form around an inserted wooden spoon.
Fry the sufganiyot: have a cooling rack lined with paper towel at the ready. Working in pairs of two, place the sufganiyot into the oil - I carefully dropped mine in, but you could use a wide spatula to stick them in there if you prefer. These beauties fry FAST, so keep your eye on them - they may take as little as 30 seconds per side. When one side is golden brown, flip using a slotted spatula or tongs, and then place onto the paper-towel lined cooling rack to drain and cool. Repeat with remaining sufganiyot. Allow to cool completely before filling.
Fill and dip the sufganiyot: if using a zippered plastic bag, snip the corner off - if using a piping tip, make sure the hole is big enough for the tip to fit through (I know, I know, we're all adults here), but if not, keep the hole small so that a ton of filling doesn't come out at once. Also, if you're using this method, you'll most likely need to hollow out the sufganiya a bit with a chopstick or the handle of a teaspoon. Plastic bag or piping bag aside, insert the piping tip into the bag so that it pokes through, and place bag in an empty drinking glass - this makes it SO much easier to fill your bag. Using a spatula, fill the bag about ¾ of the way, leaving enough room to twist off. Twist the top of the bag so that filling doesn't come out of the top. Fill the sufganiyot by poking them in the middle and going through about halfway. Squeeze the bag, and slowly pull out as you squeeze. We gave them cute little frosting butts to cover up the hole, but it isn't necessary. Once filled, dip the tops into the melted chocolate and sprinkle with extra halva bits.
To serve: the second they are done they should be in your belly.
To keep: they'll keep okay for a couple of days in a tightly sealed plastic container or zippered bag.