hanukkah donuts. forget the jelly. use peanut butter instead.

so it's hanukkah again. i was surrounded by a seemingly endless supply of jelly donuts and chocolate gelt coins at work last hanukkah. and when i say surrounded, i really mean it. they were literally in my actual physical office. i have almost no willpower as it is when it comes to sweets, and last hanukkah i was pregnant. it's no surprise i consumed an astonishing amount of treats. the truth is, i probably would have consumed the same amount had i not been pregnant, but last year i was able to do it shamelessly and with gusto. that's why, when it came time for my own hanukkah baking, i was done with fried things and i decided to go a lighter route and make lemon olive oil cookies.

this year i've been surrounded by cheerios and baby yogurt, and the closest i've come to a holiday sweets binge was on saturday night when i stood a little too close to the bowl of red and green m&m's at the christmakah party my friends were throwing. so i'm all about fried holiday treats now. this year, i decided to make sufganiyot, or fried donuts, for the very first time. 
last night jake, joey, and gaby came over to celebrate hanukkah with us and i made a very healthy, balanced dinner with the delicious things we procured at the farmers market on saturday. that's why it was okay to serve the dessert we served. not just okay, but appropriate. jake doesn't eat jelly anything, so i decided to just skip that whole part (even though i'm a jelly donut convert) and make unstuffed donuts, which are really just like dough bites. i tried, rather unsuccessfully, to put some chocolate chips in between two donuts and push them together before i fried them, but i wouldn't recommend it because most of them just separated and the chocolate fell out. besides, they really didn't need the chocolate. not when they were topped with powdered sugar, $12 ice cream, and hot chocolate sauce. let me explain:

every tuesday, when i'm at work, josh takes rapha to a wonderful little cheese shop called valley shepherd creamery where they both sample cheeses and talk to the lovely girl who works there, who, it turns out, graduated from kenyon college 7 years after i did. (is there no end to the smallness of this world??) rapha helps josh decide which cheese to buy. seriously. he has a very discerning palate for a 7 month old. valley shepherd also sells delicious jams and cookies and breads and ice cream. expensive ice cream. the most expensive ice cream i have ever seen in my life. $12 pints of ice cream. josh and i talk about it a lot. what could possibly justify that astronomical price? is this the ice cream to end all ice creams? is there really a discernible difference between this ice cream and, say, ben and jerry's? there was, obviously, only one way to find out. so yesterday, when we stopped in to pick up some cheese for dinner we finally pulled the trigger and bought a pint. the flavors they had available were the good kind of bizarre, but not all of them would go with fried dough. i was having a little trouble choosing between boozy eggnog, brambleberry crisp, salted caramel, and roasted strawberry buttermilk when i saw the obvious choice. the buckeye state. peanut butter. ohio. meant to be.
after dusting the donuts in powdered sugar i whipped up some chocolate sauce by melting a little butter, some chocolate chips, and a drop of the milk left over from the donuts, which i whisked together and then poured on top of the donuts. that was before the ice cream. it was the right thing to do.

this is the recipe i used. i halved it and used lowfat milk instead. please don't think i have the ridiculous notion that using lowfat milk would make deep fried pieces of dough smothered in chocolate sauce and topped with peanut butter ice cream healthier in any way. i used lowfat milk only because there's actually a chance we'll get through it before its expiration date and i'm not much of a whole milk drinker. as far as i could tell, the substitution worked just fine.
1 cup flour plus more for dusting
1/8 cup sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm milk (105-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon room temperature butter (i hal- melted mine)
3 cups vegetable oil for frying
powdered sugar for dusting

to make:
1. combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt and then add the egg yolk and milk and mix it together for about a minute either using a dough hook or a spatula. add the butter and knead until the dough is shiny and smooth looking. it'll be pretty sticky. form it into a ball, transfer it to an oiled bowl, and let the oil coat it. cover it and let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour or so.
2. punch down the dough and then roll it out on a floured counter until it's about 1/4 inch thick. use any kind of small, 2 inch round glass or cup you can find--i used a candle holder--to cut out dough rounds. i think i had about 18. transfer them to a floured baking sheet. lightly cover the baking sheet with saran wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. the dough will rise and the rounds will be about 1/2 inch thick.
3. when the 30 minutes is up, heat the oil over medium in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven and until it reaches 350 degrees F. line another baking sheet with paper towels. using a spatula, carefully put the dough rounds into the oil one at a time. depending on the size of your pot you should be able to fit 5-10 at a time. fry them until the bottoms are golden brown and then flip them over with a fork until the other side gets golden, too. this could take anywhere between 30 seconds-1 1/2 minutes. the dough will puff up considerably and when its done frying, use a slotted spoon to pull it out piece by piece and drain on the paper towels. (you can use a wire rack if you have one)
4. dust with powdered sugar and serve with whatever decadent toppings you can think of!
it was a successful hanukkah dinner. jake and gaby gave rapha the loudest toy in the history of the world, we drank great wine, joey finally admitted he likes brussels sprouts, i laughed so hard i nearly peed, we devoured the donuts and licked the plates clean. the pint of $12 ice cream is gone. turns out it was worth every penny.


  1. Ooh I'm going make doughnuts for the first time this weekend so this post is perfect timing! Never had their ice cream but have you had Ample Hills? Obsessed doesn't begin to describe it.

  2. yes!!! i love ample hills! every flavor is delicious and you just reminded me i'm way overdue for a visit. if you're ever feeling insanely indulgent, definitely try jeni's.

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