If you wish to respect the tradition of eating fried foods during Hanukkah, which starts at sundown tomorrow and commemorates the miracle of the little oil jar that burned for eight days, latkes are the go-to dish. But is that because they’re easier than making, say, the holiday’s fluffy, warm, satisfying jelly doughnuts (soufganiyot, in Hebrew)? When I reach the filling at the center, my heart fills with joy.
The doughnuts are wonderful when done right, but they can be time-consuming to make — and potentially heartbreaking, in terms of a proper rise for the yeasted dough and the travails involved with basic fears about frying. But store-bought versions never quite work for me.
Here’s an elegant solution: yeast-free mini-doughnuts that are light on the inside because they’re made with self-rising flour. They are fried in less oil and served with a quick, homemade red wine-cherry jam on the side. I like to dust them with confectioners’ sugar, but you can also serve them with lemon curd or drizzled with dark chocolate.
Guttman is a Washington caterer, whose business is called Cardamom and Mint Catering.
Makes about 40 small, round fritters (10 to 12 servings)
MAKE AHEAD: The jam can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Leftovers can be used with other desserts. The doughnuts are best served on the same day they are made, but they can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.
For the jam
2 pounds pitted fresh or frozen cherries
About 3 cups (24 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup red wine, such as merlot or pinot noir
Pinch ground allspice
For the doughnuts
Oil, for frying (half of it can be olive oil)
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons sugar
16 ounces nonfat Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
Finely grated zest of 1 orange (a scant tablespoon)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
For the jam: Combine the cherries, sugar and wine in large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, stirring to blend. Once the mixture starts to bubble at the edges, skim any foam from the top. Cook uncovered for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed, so the mixture darkens in color and thickens to form a jam. The yield is about 6 cups. If you’re using it right away, keep at room temperature; otherwise, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
For the doughnuts: Heat 1 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Line a platter with several layers of paper towels, or place a wire rack over a few layers of paper towels.
Combine the flour, sugar, yogurt, eggs, the 1/4 cup of olive oil, orange zest and salt in a mixing bowl, stirring to form a smooth batter.
When the oil is hot (at the shimmer stage), use 2 tableware teaspoons to drop 1-inch dollops of the batter into the oil (about 5 or 6 at a time); fry until brown; this should take about 4 minutes per batch. If the doughnuts brown quicker than that, reduce the heat as needed. Transfer the doughnuts to the platter or rack. Repeat to use all the batter.
Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar; serve warm, with the jam alongside for dipping.
More on Hanukkah: