Papanași: your new favorite Romanian dessert

Papanași: your new favorite Romanian dessert

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

If there’s one kind of food that will get me buying a plane ticket to a new place, it’s dessert. And with these fried cheese-filled, donut-like beauties, you can bet I’m pulling out my passport and credit card for a trip to Romania—right after I make these, of course.

Papanași, pronounced papanash, are a traditional Romanian dessert that are found on most local restaurant menus. Topped with blueberry jam and a cream similar to sour cream or crème fraiche, the donut-like treats are made with a Romanian cow’s milk soft cheese and fried to golden perfection. Adapted versions use ricotta or cottage cheese, as these cheeses are more widely available for the home cook. These are best served warm.

Papanași

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Serves: 8

1 pound ricotta cheese

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream or crème fraiche

1 cup blueberry jam, or whichever flavor you prefer

Oil for frying

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Mix until it is well incorporated and then gradually add the flour. Continue mixing; the batter will be sticky but do not add additional flour.

Flour your work surface well and dump the mixture onto the surface. With lots of flour on your hands, shape the dough into a ball. Then cut it into 8 equal pieces. Take each piece and cut a small portion from it, this will make the donut hole. You should have 16 pieces of dough.

Take the small pieces and roll them into small balls, flouring your hands as necessary. Do the same thing with the larger pieces, and then press them down flat and use your finger to press through the middle to make a hole.

Heat up the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot. When it’s hot, fry the donuts, 4 at a time and flipping halfway through. When they are golden brown, remove and place on a paper towel-lined rack. Make sure the oil is back up to temperature before putting in a new batch. Fry all of the donuts and donut holes.

To serve, place warm donuts on a plate, dollop a couple spoonfuls of sour cream in the middle and then a heaping spoonful of jam. Place the donut holes on top and serve.

(This recipe was adapted from Jo Cooks.)

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