Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
This is going to be quick, hot, yummy!
When you come to Romania and delve into traditional Romanian food, papanași is one of the most common sweets you will find, especially in and around the capital and major cities, in most restaurants and as dessert suggestion from local foodies. Papanași is a fried or boiled doughnut type cheese-based pastry, served with sour cream and delicious jams. The word appears to originate from the Latin papa ( "small food", "food for children") and it will definitely make you feel like a child indulging in a lavish sweet that covers your mouth in cream while you eat it.
If you've tried papanași or look for this dessert online you will find it under this modern, restaurant form of puffed doughnuts, where the dough is mostly made of flour and flour raising agents such as baking soda or yeast, with some cheese in there. What I inherited from my grandmother is a simple recipe, with loads of cheese, very little flour and no additives, and this family heirloom will allow you to taste the rustic, homemade, truly traditional papanași. It's quick too! Let's get to it...
My grandmother's recipe enhances the cheese experience in papanași and can become a very good way to taste a high quality soft cheese. We love to eat farmer's market soft cheese either as luscious pies with raisins and other dried fruits, as cheesecakes or as appetizer with mamaliga and sour cream and I often use it as healthy base for all kinds of salty spreads (stay tuned and you will learn about its versatility with us).
INGREDIENTS (serves 5)
450g soft cheese (cream cheese, cottage cheese, what you would use for a cheesecake)
2 fresh eggs
grated lemon, orange, grapefruit
1 tbs sugar
a pinch of salt
your favorite jam (preferably a sourish one such as sour cherry jam or raspberry jam)
1. Place the cheese in a bowl and grate a generous amount of lemon, orange and/or grapefruit zest, to taste.
2. Break two fresh eggs, whole.
3. Throw in the flour and add a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of sugar.
4. With thoroughly washed hands, mix them all well until you obtain a creamy, cheesy dough. If you prefer, you can use an ustensil such as a fork or spoon.
5. Heat a good amount of vegetable oil in a pan, enough to be able to turn the papanași on each side, but not as much as to cover them in oil completely (not a full deep fry).
6. Roll balls of dough in your palms and flatten them on one palm (to app. 1 cm thick) and with your finger, make a hole in the middle (for better cooking through). If you feel the dough is too sticky in your palms, you can aid yourself with a little flour. It is best however to use a minimum of flour for this recipe, so that one can taste the cheese rather than a flour dough, as ultimate result.
7. Fry the papanași on medium to low heat, about 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and slightly crispy on the surface. Watch them like a hawk to avoid burning and adjust the heat accordingly, along the process. Cheese burns easily, so until you get accustomed to cooking papanași, practice with lower heat.
8. Place them on paper towels to drain the excess oil.
Serve the papanași warm (or cold; they are equally good!) with loads of powdered sugar on top. This is my grandma's original recipe, but you can try them with sour cream and jam as well, or a combination of sour cream and icing sugar.
You can vary the recipe by adding a salty cheese to the dough, raisins and/or a spoon of butter. The other variation of this recipe she made was the boiled one, a healthier version, which I will present to you next time. The crisp of the fried version is meant to make you fall in love already.
I am happy to share with you a piece of my golden childhood sweet delights. Enjoy! Poftă bună!
Cover photo: Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanta Ion
A melting pot experience, in more than one way. Welcome to our Epicurean adventure!