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Posted on Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 7 a.m.

Eating doughnuts on the 6th night of Chanukkah

By Mary Bilyeu

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It's difficult not to be seduced by Chanukkah, as it grants permission to indulge in fried foods -- so taboo now! -- as a way to celebrate the miracle of 1 day's worth of consecrated oil having lasted for 8 days after the Maccabees overthrew the army of Antiochus IV and rededicated the Temple.
Ricotta Doughnuts.JPG

Ricotta doughnuts coated in cinnamon sugar, still warm ... sigh.

Mary Bilyeu, Contributor

While the Ashkenazim -- Jews with roots tracing back to Northern, Eastern and Central Europe -- traditionally eat latkes at Chanukkah, in Israel the custom is to eat sufganiyot [soof-GAHN-yote]: jelly doughnuts.

Sufganiyot are made with a yeast dough, then injected with jelly after being fried ... they are a thing of true beauty. But all of this, frankly, was more trouble than I wanted to bother with and required more time than I cared to wait for my fix. So I used a tried-and-true recipe for Ricotta Doughnuts which can be mixed in moments, fried in just over 1 minute, and devoured within about 15 minutes of the doughnut craving's first strike.

Because these doughnuts -- which are coated in cinnamon sugar -- require both cheese and oil, they honor the dual culinary traditions of Chanukkah: celebrating the miracle of the oil, as well as Judith's having fed Antiochus' army captain with dairy products in order to trick him into drinking too much. So, needless to say, they are a perfect food for celebrating this fabulous holiday!

Ricotta Doughnuts

4 cups oil, for frying

Doughnuts: 1-1/2 cups flour 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup brown sugar 2 tablespoons oil 1/2 cup ricotta cheese 1 egg

Coating: 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the oil in a 3-quart saucepan, and heat over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar. Combine the oil, ricotta cheese, and egg; pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. (The dough will seem a bit dry, but that's okay.)

Knead the dough until it comes together, then roll it out to just over 1/4" thickness on a lightly floured countertop. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough; cut 1" holes in the center (any gadget you have on hand will be fine for this) and re-roll the remaining dough until it's used up.

Uncooked Ricotta Doughnuts.JPG

Mary Bilyeu, Contributor

Place 3 doughnuts into the hot oil at one time, and cook for 1 minute until both sides are a deep golden brown. Remove to a paper towel to drain, and continue frying doughnuts.

Fried Ricotta Doughnuts.JPG

Mary Bilyeu, Contributor

Combine the coating ingredients in a bowl, and place the doughnuts into this mixture one-by-one, covering them with the mixture. Set aside, and continue until all the doughnuts are coated in cinnamon sugar.

Makes 16 doughnuts.

Mary Bilyeu has won or placed in more than 60 cooking contests and writes about her adventures as she tries to win prizes, feeds hungry teenagers and other loved ones, and generally just has fun in the kitchen. The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured next to the blog's title) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15, and is a wish for all her readers as they cook along with her ... may you always be happy here!

You can contact Mary at


Mary Bilyeu

Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 12:03 p.m.

Jessica, these really are soooooooo amazingly good! They don't have the staying power that yeast doughnuts do (though the ricotta does contribute moistness). But frankly, when warm cinnamon-coated doughnuts are put in front of you, leftovers are NOT something you'll have to be bothered with!

Jessica Webster

Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:13 a.m.

Oh Mary! Those look soooooooo amazingly good.