My wife’s latkes were as good as usual; I lost count after my fifth helping. I just knew that I had a crowd on my plate. In Latke Land, my reality tv show, no one stays on the island. As my wife says, there’s a reason why we only make latkes once a year.
Several years ago at our annual Chanukah party, I was looking for something else to do after peeling 20 lbs. of potatoes. We had 50 people coming over. So, what could I do that would be time consuming, make a big mess, stress out my wife, and use more oil? Sufganiyot or Chanukah doughnuts! I had an injector for the jelly that I was dying to try out. Let’s just say that was the last time I made them.
This year, the protesters were lined up outside our house, “No more oil.” “No more oil.” “No more oil.” I confess. I was the only protestor. But in honor of that one voice, I offer you Chanukah pastry balls, a healthier version of sufganiyot, sweetened with honey and baked, not fried. If the Maccabees are coming for dinner, I’m sure they won’t mind.
Honey Cinnamon Chanukah Pastry Balls (from Faye Levy’s Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home: 200 Recipes for Eating Well on Holidays and Every Day)
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour or additional all-purpose flour
½ cup water
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons mild olive oil or vegetable oil
3 large eggs, or 2 eggs plus 1 to 2 egg whites
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons mild olive oil or vegetable oil
4 to 6 tablespoons honey (for drizzling)
Cinnamon (for sprinkling)
2 to 3 teaspoons chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 400. Oil two baking sheets.
Mix both kinds of flour. Combine water, 1 tablespoon honey, and salt in a small, heavy saucepan. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons oil (I added 3). Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add flour mixture immediately and stir quickly with a wooden spoon until mixture is smooth. Set pan over low heat and cook mixture, stirring for about 30 seconds. Let cool for a few minutes.
Add 1 egg and beat it thoroughly into mixture. Beat in second egg until mixture is smooth. In a small bowl beat third egg or egg white with a fork. Gradually beat enough of this egg into the dough until dough becomes very shiny and is soft enough so that when some is lifted, it just falls from the spoon. Stir in lemon zest.
Using 2 teaspoons, or a pastry bag and ½ inch plain tip, shape mounds of dough of about 1 inch diameter, spacing them about 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons oil into a small dish. Brush mounds with oil, gently giving them a round shape.
Bake for 30 minutes or until dough is puffed and browned; cracks that form during baking should also be brown. Serve hot or warm.