Sufganyiot Gone Wild!

— by Ronit Treatman

What is the most Israeli of Hanukkah foods?  The sufganyia!  Sufganyiot are special doughnuts that are prepared only during the eight days of Hanukkah in Israel.  The traditional sufganyia is a vanilla doughnut, injected with strawberry jam, then sprinkled with powdered sugar.  In the past few years Israeli bakers have begun to express their creativity with sufganyiot serving as their canvas.  They incorporate such local specialties as sesame seeds and Sabra liqueur into their sufganyiot.  For a special festive touch this Hanukkah, you can fry up a batch of your own mini-sufganyiot.  They are great for parties, and for letting your imagination soar.  

Recipes follow the jump.
Here is the basic dough for sufganyiot.

Basic Sufganiyot Dough

  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 or 3 drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups flour


  1. In a bowl, mix the warm water, sugar, and dry yeast.  
  2. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Then add all the other ingredients.  
  4. Knead them into a soft dough.  
  5. Cover the bowl with a towel, and leave in a warm place for 2 hours.  

If you are pressed for time, you may use frozen, raw challah dough to make sufgayiot.  You can order frozen Kosher challah dough online from Wenner Bread Products.  

Just thaw the dough, form little balls, and fry your sufganyiot.

To prepare the sufganyiot, pinch off 2-inch pieces of dough, and roll them into balls.  Heat the vegetable oil in a pan.  Keep the oil at a temperature of 360-375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fry your sufganyiot, then drain them on a paper towel.  

Traditional Sufganiyot

  1. Begin with the basic sufganyiot dough.
  2. Fry your sufganyiot.
  3. Inject some strawberry jam into the sufganyiot.
  4. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  5. Eat them while they are still warm!

Halvah is the Israeli peanut butter.  Ubiquitous and widely consumed, this sweet sesame confection has now found its way into sufganyiot.

Halvah Cream Sufganyiot
Prepare the basic sufganyiot dough above.  

Creamy Halvah Filling

  • Halvah
  • Cream

Place halvah chunks in a blender.  Slowly add heavy cream and mix it until it reaches the desired consistency.  Pipe it into the sufganyiot.  Sprinkle the sufganyiot with powdered sugar.

In order to have a really good time during Hanukkah, some people like to inject a little liquor into their sufganyiot.  The liquor of choice is Sabra liqueur, which is locally produced by the Carmel Winery.  It comes in a beautiful bottle whose design is based on a 2000-year old Phoenician wine flask discovered by Israeli archaeologists.  Sabra liqueur is made with bitter chocolate and Israeli oranges.  Sabra now also offers a coffee liqueur and a brandy flavored with oranges.  Any of these liqueurs will do in the following recipe.  

“Drunk” Sabra Liqueur Sufganyiot With Chocolate Ganache

Prepare the basic sufganiyot dough.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 16 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream

  1. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave for about 4 minutes.  Do not let it boil.  
  2. Place the finely chopped chocolate in a bowl.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.  Stir briskly until the mixture becomes smooth and silky.

Assemble the sufganyiot:

  1. Fry your mini sufganyiot.
  2. Blot on a paper towel.
  3. Inject 1/2 teaspoon full (or to taste) of Sabra liqueur in each sufganyia.
  4. Dip the sufganyiot in the chocolate ganache.

This Hanukkah surprise your guests or hosts with inspired homemade mini-sufganyiot.  Bring your own creativity to this basic Israeli Hanukkah staple.  


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