Jelly-filled donuts--known in Hebrew as sufganiyot--are a traditional Hanukkah treat that makes ample use of oil. But there are other ways to integrate oil into delicious desserts.
This recipe puts a new twist on dessert by throwing in a couple of savory flavors with the sweet ones. Here, a citrus-infused batter receives the rich "umami" of olive oil and the briny crunch of course sea salt. It's like a lemon birthday cake for grownups.
2 cupsall-purpose flour 2 teaspoonsbaking powder 1/8 teaspoonsalt 1 tablespoonhoney 2/3 cupstrongly-flavored extra virgin olive oil Zest of one large lemon (about 1 tablespoon) Juice of one large lemon, plus enough milk to make 1/2 cup liquid 3large eggs 2 teaspoonsfresh sage, chopped
2 tablespoonsbutter or margerine, softened 1 1/2 - 2 cupspowdered sugar 2 tablespoonsmilk--dairy milk or a nut, rice, or soy milk all work fine
Fried Sage Leaf Garnish
1 cupolive oil 15-20fresh sage leaves coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 F. Outfit a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, sift or whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another medium bowl, combine sugar, honey, lemon zest, and olive oil. Whisk together.
Add eggs and beat well.
Gradually add flour mixture, lemon juice, and milk to the sugar/honey/zest/oil/egg mixture, stirring as you go.
Add sage and stir a few more times to combine and ensure that the batter is smooth. Do not over-mix.
Fill liners 3/4 of the way, and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops bounce back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Cream butter and about half of the powdered sugar. Gradually add milk and the rest of the powdered sugar, stirring well until smooth and spreadable.
Fried Sage Leaf Garnish
Heat oil in a skillet with tall sides to about 365 F (you can check with a deep fry thermometer or candy thermometer). Drop sage leaves into oil, 4 or 5 at a time, and allow to fry for about 5 seconds. Remove and lay on paper towels.
To assemble cupcakes, top each with frosting, place a sage leaf or two in the center, and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.
Note: For best results in any of these recipes, bring all ingredients to room temperature before preparing.
Rhea Yablon Kennedy holds a master's degree in creative nonfiction from Johns Hopkins University. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post's On Faith blog, Washingon Jewish Week, Examiner.com, and Edible Chesapeake magazine. Rhea has long been a cook by hobby and sometimes by profession. She currently teaches at Gallaudet University.