21/4 teaspoons (or one 1/4-ounce packet) active dry yeast (such as Fleischmann's RapidRise)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups warm (105- to 115-degree) water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil (preferably safflower, corn or canola)
Ground cinnamon to taste
Honey-lemon syrup (1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest stirred into 1 cup honey)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over 1/2 cup warm water. When the mixture turns foamy (after about 5 minutes), stir in the remaining 11/2 cups of water, egg, flour, salt, nutmeg and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise for about an hour. (Don't stir again, or it will deflate.) The result should be a bubbly batter.
While the batter is rising, in a deep fryer or a large pot with a candy thermometer attached to the side, heat four inches of oil to 375 degrees. (For safety, allow at least 2 inches between the oil and the top of the pan.) Note: This is a good time to make the honey-lemon syrup, as it takes about 20 minutes to heat that much oil.
Working in batches, slide two or three tablespoons of batter into the hot oil at a time (be sure not to crowd the pan). The dollops will puff up and float to the top.
Turn the puffs occasionally with a slotted spoon until they are a deep golden brown on all sides and very crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove carefully and drain on paper towels or brown paper bags.
Dust the puffs generously with cinnamon, drizzle with honey syrup and sprinkle with walnuts. Makes about 36 puffs.
Per serving (based on 36): 111 calories, 2 gm protein, 17 gm carbohydrates, 4 gm fat, 6 mg cholesterol, 0.5 gm saturated fat, 19 mg sodium, 0.5 gm dietary fiber