Thanksgiving is very close to the first night of Hanukkah this year, which means both holidays are simultaneously on my mind! Last week I came up with a fun little dish that combines the two holiday traditions into one tasty treat– Sweet Potato Coconut Chremslach.
Chremslach (singular: chremsel) is the Yiddish word for a fried pancake, and it can appear in many different forms. The most popular chremsel is a pancake made of matzo called bubeleh. Chremslach can also be made from potatoes. Potato chremslach are very similar to latkes, with one major difference. Instead of shredding the potatoes, as we do with latkes, the potatoes are mashed and made into a thick batter before frying. Matzo or breadcrumbs and eggs can be added to bind the batter and keep the pancakes from falling apart. Chremslach often appear on deli menus as “potato pancakes,” and can easily be mistaken for latkes. While latkes are thinner and crisper due to the shredded texture of the potatoes, chremslach are more fluffy.
Sweet potatoes (the orange yam variety) are always part of our Thanksgiving menu, while chremslach and latkes are a traditional part of our Hanukkah celebration. Because Hanukkah is on the heels of Thanksgiving this year, it seems fitting to combine the two dishes into one. There are many sweet potato pancake recipes out there, some veering to the sweet side and some to savory. I decided to take it in the direction of sweet with a touch of exotic spice. Garam masala gives it an Indian twist, while coconut adds a subtle nutty depth. The result is a delicious little pancake that is crispy on the outside while soft and fluffy on the inside.
These sweet chremslach are fun and different, and will bring a distinctly Jewish touch to your Thanksgiving table. I like them with a sprinkle of sea salt at the end of cooking. The combination of salty sweetness is super yummy (think salted caramel). Or you can dust them with powdered sugar for a more dessert-like finish… I served them that way recently, and a friend who was visiting told me the flavor reminded him of a cinnamon roll. Delish! Make sure you serve them fresh from the pan, they’re the best that way. Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂
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Sweet Potato Coconut Chremslach
- 1 lb orange sweet potatoes (about 2 large potatoes), peeled and cleaned
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/8 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp granulated white sugar
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter or margarine, melted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
- Peanut or grapeseed oil for frying
- Cut the sweet potatoes into small chunks, then immerse them in water and boil them for about 30 minutes until tender.
- Drain them well and blot them with a paper towel to soak up excess moisture. Mash the potatoes in a large mixing bowl with a whisk.
- Add to the bowl the coconut, beaten eggs, brown sugar, sugar, melted butter or margarine, salt, spices and bread crumbs. Mix ingredients until they are well blended. Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes so that they breadcrumbs can absorb the moisture.
- Heat oil over medium low - medium; you will need about 1/4 inch of oil in your skillet for frying. Heat the oil until it reaches 275 degrees F-- use a candy thermometer to measure heat. If you don't have a thermometer, test the oil temperature with a piece of bread. If the oil sizzles and the bread browns in 60 seconds, it's ready.With an ice cream scoop or greased measuring cup, scoop 1/4 cup of the potato mixture and carefully place it into the hot oil to fry. Repeat until there are 5-6 patties in the frying pan. Do not overcrowd.
- Carefully dip the back of a spoon into the hot oil and gently flatten the tops of each patty, otherwise the batter will stick to your spoon. Alternately you can spray the back of the spoon with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.
- Fry the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side until nicely browned and cooked through. Place on a cooling rack to drain and cool, or on two layers of paper towels. Continue to fry the patties in batches. Serve immediately.
- Note: If you'd prefer not to deep fry your chremslach, they can also be fried in a non-stick skillet lightly coated with oil. They won't turn out quite as pretty and the exterior won't be as crisp, but they'll soak up a lot less oil.