As a young Jewish kid, I regularly saw gorgeous photos of towering croquembouche (What’s the plural of croquembouche? Croquembouches? Croquembi? Anyways!), but since they aren’t a traditional Jewish dessert, I never got to try one. Well, today, I’m changing that forever! I’ve taken the beautiful traditions of Chanukah food and combined them with the method and aesthetic of croquembouche, which means, I doughnut-fied it. Instead of the traditional choux pastry to make cream puffs, I’ve fried up a few dozen doughnut holes! Then, I use a high quality store-bought jam to fill and assemble mini doughnut hole pyramids before drizzling them with even MORE jam and a generous dusting of powdered sugar. You know what’s better than one doughnut hole? SEVEN! And you know what’s better than a giant croquembouche that you have to share? A mini, personal one that you can eat all to yourself! These are perfect for entertaining throughout the winter holidays.
In a small saucepot over low heat, add milk and butter, and cook until the butter melts, one to two minutes. Remove from heat and cool to 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
While milk and butter mixture cools, pour warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Sprinkle yeast over the water and allow to proof for five minutes.
Once yeast has proofed, add egg, sugar, salt, warm milk mixture, and half the flour to the bowl. Mix on low until well combined, one to two minutes. Add remaining flour, then increase speed to medium. Mix until a ball of dough forms and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, two to three minutes. If dough does not cleanly pull away from the sides of the bowl, add additional flour, one tablespoon at a time, and mix on low for one minute. Repeat this process until dough clears the sides of the bowl. Continue kneading for about four minutes, or until dough is fairly smooth and elastic.
Place dough in a large, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about one hour.
Once dough has risen, turn out onto a clean work surface and divide roughly in half. Gently roll one half into a long, one-inch thick log, and then cut into one-inch long pieces, so that you’re left with roughly one-by-one-inch pieces of dough. (Note: one half of the dough will roll out to be more than three feet long, so if work space is limited, cut dough into quarters before rolling.) Gently gather and pinch rough edges of each piece together at the top to form a rough ball, then roll ball over so that the pinched edges are against your work surface. Use a cupped hand to roll the ball in small, tight circles against your work surface to seal the edges together and form a smooth ball of dough. Repeat process with second half of the dough.
Place dough balls on a Gefen Parchment-lined sheet pan, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rise until slightly puffed, 20 to 30 minutes.
While the dough rises, preheat two inches of oil in a large, deep pot to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and set a racked sheet tray nearby. Once dough is risen and oil is preheated, use a spider or large slotted spoon to gently add about six dough balls to the oil. Fry, tossing constantly for even cooking, for about one minute, or until puffed and golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack, and continue working in batches until all doughnut holes are fried. Allow to cool for at least five minutes before filling.
Transfer one jar of jam into a large plastic bag with a 1/4-inch cut from a corner, or pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip.
Use a skewer to poke a hole in the center of each doughnut hole and gently swirl the end of the skewer to make room for the jam. Slowly fill each doughnut until jam begins to seep out, then set aside, hole side up.
In a small saucepot, heat 1/2 cup jam over medium heat, stirring often, until slightly thickened and darkened in color, about five minutes. Use a rubber spatula to transfer reduced jam to a heatproof bowl. Rinse saucepot out, fill with about one inch of water, then place back on stove over medium low heat until simmering. Place bowl of reduced jam in saucepot to create a double boiler so that the jam stays pliable.
Working as quickly as possible, dip the hole-side of a doughnut into the thickened jam and press it against another doughnut. The thickened jam will hold them together. Attach two more doughnuts, so that you have a square bottom layer made of four doughnut holes. Using the same method, create a layer made from three doughnuts in a triangle shape, and place it on top of the square. Finally, dip one doughnut into the thickened jam, and place it on top of the second layer to form a pyramid. If layers are not stable enough to stack immediately, allow them to set for about five minutes on a flat surface before stacking.
Repeat until all doughnut holes are used, creating six to seven mini croquembouche, depending on the number of doughnut holes you have.
To garnish, heat 1/2 cup jam in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until loose and pourable. Use a spoon to drizzle croquembouche with jam, then top with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
This recipe originally appeared on EitanBernath.com.