Gingerbread Sufganiyot (Doughnuts)

3/4 cup lukewarm whole milk
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

for the filling:
8 oz (brick) cream cheese, at room temperature
1  cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

canola oil (for frying)
Powdered sugar (for sprinkling)

Place the milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and lightly whisk. Allow to stand until frothy and yeasty smelling about 3 minutes.

Place the flour, sugar, spices and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly mix the flour mixture, using the hook attachment, into the yeast mixture.

Add the yolks and mix, until a rough dough forms, about 1-3 minutes. Add the butter, increase the speed, and mix until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes. It should be tacky, sticking to the bottom of the bowl but not to the sides or dough hook.

Coat a large bowl with oil. Form the dough into a ball, place in the bowl. Roll the dough around the bowl to coat it lightly in oil. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise in a warm place (or cold oven) until doubled in size, about 1-1 1/2 hours.

Lightly flour a platter. Set aside. Punch down the dough, transfer to a lightly floured work surface (I used a rolling mat), and roll until about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out dough rounds and place on the prepared platter 1/2 inch apart. Roll the scraps into a ball and roll out again, cut into rounds.

Cover loosely with a tea damp towel. Let rise in a warm place/cold oven until doubled in thickness, about 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat together the vanilla, cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Set aside.

Pour about a quart and a half of canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and heat until the temperature reaches 350. Meanwhile, line a second baking sheet with paper towels and place a wire rack over the paper towels. Set aside.

Use a large, flat spatula to lift the doughnuts into the oil, taking care not to over crowd the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.

Drain on wire rack over paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat for remaining dough.

Puncture the side of each doughnut with the tip of a small, sharp knife and pipe in the cream cheese mixture. Dust doughnuts with powdered sugar on both sides.

Bonus Points: Add gingerbread spices to the powdered sugar before sprinkling for extra flavor. I like to use my dusting wand to get an even amount of sugar on each doughnut.

Yield: about 18 doughnuts

My thoughts:

Sufganiyot are super popular Hanukkah snacks in Israel. While we are over here frying potatoes like chumps, they are chowing down on doughnuts! Unfair! I love yeast doughnut so I will take any excuse to eat them so why not make my own? Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah and Christmas overlap this year and we celebrate both at our house so I thought it would be fun to combine a fried Hanukkah treat with a classic Christmas dessert. Gingerbread sufganiyot seemed like the logical choice. Rather than just making plain sufganiyot with a gingerbread filling, I made the doughnut gingerbread flavored and filled it with sweetened cream cheese. Traditionally sufganiyot are jelly doughnuts but neither of us really like jelly doughnuts ( #teamcustardfilled)  and the combination of jelly and gingerbread did not seem appealing. If it does to you feel free to use jelly instead, of course! I’ve read that fancy sufganiyot with unusual flavor pairings are all the rage this year in Israel so I think these would fit in very well!

The cream cheese is a bit thick so you really have to use some musel to get it into the doughnut but it is worth it to have every bit filled with gingerbread-doughnutty-cream cheese excitement. Also, these doughnuts take a while to make so be prepared to get up early if you want to have them for breakfast. Snack time might work best!

These are super flavorful, nice and spicy and full of gingerbread flavor but with the light texture of a yeasted doughnut.

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