I made these two weeks before Easter, then I made another batch the week before, and now, the week after Easter, I have made them again! Which begs the question: Why??? If you thought Easter was only about chocolate bunnies or colored eggs or ham and scalloped potatoes, then you're SO wrong! Easter is about eating warm Bomboloni (the singular is Bombolone) filled with sweet lemon curd or raspberry jam or vanilla pastry cream!! Yes, I know, Easter is about something else as well...this year it truly was a "high holy day"as it fell on the final round of the Masters Golf Tournament! Now, before I am smote, I do know the real reason we have Easter...I'm not a total heathen. That being said, I have it on good authority that on the third day, Bomboloni was served. Blasphemy and Bomboloni seem to go hand in hand because they are so dang good you won't be in control of your faculties! Not to worry, I shall repent later...as soon as I'm convinced I have convinced you that these are worth making, worth the calories and worth wearing jeans so tight one can't fall to her knees to repent without cutting off her circulation at the same time!
Italian donuts - that's what I'm talking about...you can buy them on the street in Tuscany where you can get 4 for 2 Euros, plus airfare, or make them at home and pretend you're in Tuscany...works for me! And here's the best part, you make the dough the night before! In the morning you roll out the dough, cutting small circles - they are flat as the dough doesn't rise, and then you deep fry them. They puff up, into the sweetest little rounds! Roll them in sugar, let them cool a bit and then you can either eat them just like that or inject some filling into the centers...Mama Mia!!
This last batch I made at my mom's house and we filled them with vanilla pastry cream...but any type of jam will work. Since they are small, just a bit larger than a golf ball, they are SO easy to pop into your mouth...one after another!
Bomboloni - Adapted from Food and Wine
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons milk
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups canola oil, for frying
3/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves or 3/4 cup lemon curd or 3/4 pastry cream (recipe below)
confectioners' sugar for dusting, optional
Vanilla pastry cream recipe follows
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, mix the water, yeast, honey and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 1 hour. Return the bowl to the mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of flour, along with the milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and the salt. Mix at low speed until blended, then add the butter and knead at medium speed until silky but sticky, about 5 minutes; the dough will not pull away from the side of the bowl. Using an oiled spatula, scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. The dough will not rise.
In a large saucepan, heat the canola oil to 360 degrees. (It really helps to have a candy thermometer for this, if the oil gets too hot the Bomboloni will cook too fast on the outside and be undercooked on the inside. If the oil is not hot enough, they will take much, much longer to cook and the outside will be tough.) Line a rack with paper towels. Fill a shallow bowl with 1/2 inch of granulated sugar. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough a scant 1/2-inch thick. Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, stamp out 32 rounds; do not reroll the dough. Fry the rounds, 6 to 7 at a time, until they are browned, about 2 minutes, then turn and cook for additional minute or two. Be sure to keep the oil between 360 and 375 degrees. Drain the Bomboloni on paper towels, then roll them in the granulated sugar. Continue frying and rolling the remaining Bomboloni.
If you are going to fill them, fit a pastry bag with a 1/4-inch tip and fill with the preserves or lemon curd or pastry cream, you can also use a squeeze bottle. Poke the tip 3/4's of the way into the Bomboloni and squeeze in the filling, pulling the tip out slightly as you squeeze to fill them as much as possible. Dust the Bomboloni with confectioners' sugar and serve. If not serving immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Makes 32.
Vanilla Pastry Cream:
2 cups half-n-half
1/2 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat the half-n-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch untill combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
When the half-n-half mixture reaches a full simmer, gradually whisk the simmering half-n-half into the yolk mixture to temper. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 2 hours.
Just in case you need a little more sugar...feast your eyes on my sweet Max, full of excitment for his Thomas the Train birthday party. He's holding on the the cute cupcake toppers the girl made - he loved them!