Every year during Hanukkah, it’s our family tradition to make Sephardic buñuelos. These sweet doughnut-like fritters are deep fried and drenched in warm, sugary syrup. They are known by different names throughout the world. In Mexico and South America, these dessert fritters are called buñuelos. Many Sephardic Jewish families call them bimuelos, and sweeten them with warm honey syrup. My Israeli husband grew up calling them levivot. While most Jews know levivot as the Hebrew word for latkes, the Israeli side of our family uses the word to describe any sort of little fried treat. Whatever you call buñuelos, they’re delicious – and they are so easy to prepare. They’re the perfect Hanukkah treat!
As a twist on our family’s buñuelo recipe, I replaced our traditional sugar syrup with a warm chocolate sauce. The fritters themselves are lightly sweet, but not cloying – the perfect canvas for a decadent sauce. Imagine freshly fried, piping hot mini doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar, then drizzled with rich and gooey chocolate sauce… who can resist?
Chocolate Sauce – A Twist on Buñuelos
A rose-scented chocolate sauce makes this buñuelo recipe truly unique; they are sort of a cross between buñuelos and beignets, with a Middle Eastern twist. This is a delicious dessert for Hanukkah, or really any time. I worked for a flavor balance here that would be sweet, but not overly so. As a result the semisweet chocolate sauce can be sweetened more, if desired. Coupled with a hint of rose water, the chocolate takes on a wholly new flavor. Overall the sauce has a very special flavor, quite different from ordinary chocolate syrup or hot fudge. I could eat it by the spoonful (and have been known to do just that!).
Be sure to check your oil temperature (it should start at 325 degrees F and no hotter). Additionally, make sure you fry the buñuelos for at least 3 1/2 minutes– if they’re browning too fast, they won’t cook all the way through. And try to serve them not long after you fry them; they’ll lose their lovely crisp exterior over time.
Chag Sameach! May your Hanukkah be filled with light, love, and lots of delicious buñuelos.
Hanukkah Buñuelos with Warm Chocolate Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups (6.9 ounces) all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (2.7 ounces) sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup milk (you may substitute unsweetened almond milk or soy milk)
- Avocado oil or ghee for frying
- 2 tablespoons (.5 ounce) powdered sugar for dusting
Warm Chocolate Sauce Ingredients
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 3 tablespoons sugar (or more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Pinch salt
- 1/3 cup half and half, or more if needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon rosewater (optional)
To Make Buñuelos
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt. In a separate bowl, beat the egg, milk, and vanilla together. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a thick, slightly lumpy batter forms.
- Fill your frying pan to a 1 inch depth of oil – in a 10.5 inch fry pan, that takes about 4 cups of oil. Warm oil over medium heat to 325 degrees F. Use a thermometer to test oil temperature before the first fritters are added – if oil starts out too hot, fritters will brown before they are cooked through. Use a metal tablespoon to drop dollops of batter into the hot oil. Test one fritter first to see if you've got the oil temperature right. The oil should bubble evenly; if it pops or splatters, let it cool a bit before proceeding.
- Between each scoop of batter, dip your metal spoon into a dish of water. This will help keep the batter from sticking to the spoon. Make 4 to 5 buñuelos at a time. Keep a metal slotted spoon handy to turn the fritters as they become golden. Turn the fritters at least once during cooking, until golden brown on both sides. If the oil is at the right temperature, it should take roughly 3 1/2 minutes for the fritters to brown completely and cook all the way through.Drain fried buñuelos on a rack or paper towels.
- While still warm, use a fine mesh strainer to dust the fritters with powdered sugar. Use about 1/4 teaspoon of sugar for each fritter, and dust to cover evenly.
To Make Warm Chocolate Sauce
- Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat.
- Whisk in the sugar, butter, and salt, stirring constantly, until the butter is completely melted and mixed into the chocolate.
- Whisk in the half and half, a few tablespoonfuls at a time, stirring to combine after each addition. Whisk the sauce over medium heat until the half and half is fully incorporated. Add additional half and half as needed until the sauce reaches a smooth, pourable, hot fudge-like consistency.Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and optional rosewater. Add additional sugar or salt to taste, if desired. Chocolate will thicken as it cools.
- Pour the warm chocolate sauce over the buñuelos and serve. They are terrific as written. They also pair well with fresh, cold whipped cream; additionally, you may serve fritters and sauce over vanilla ice cream to make a Hanukkah buñuelos sundae.
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