Croatian Fritule with Honey-roasted grape jam

by Paulina Farro


         These delightfuly squishy and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside fried balls of dough are Croatian Fritule, but to me they will forever be "Purse Donuts"...



         On my recent trip to Croatia (which you can read about HERE)  and after too much food and drink, I decided to walk from old town Split to my hotel instead of taking a cab. You know that very specific kind of fullness that comes from seafood, where it feels like the grilled octopus you just ate might slither back up your throat and escape? I felt like that. It's different from other kinds of fullness in that there is a very, very thin line that should never be crossed. On the way back I found myself in the middle of some kind of street celebration with music and lots of food stalls. In the corner of my eye, frying in a large vat of oil, I spotted the little donuts that I had read about before arriving but had eluded me up until this point. Before I had time to think it through I was ordering a pile of nutella-drizzled Fritule. After only one bite of the Fritule I knew that having them right then was not happening, and yet I could not throw them away. I'm not a monster! I put them in a plastic bag I just happened to have in my purse. Don't ask me why I had an empty plastic bag in there but I like to think it was FATE.  I walked back to my hotel,  sat in the lobby drinking tea and chatting to my new friend Mya for about 20 minutes until I remembered...my Purse Donuts! I snatched those out of my bag so fast and with such glee that a string of nutella violently flew out of the bag and plopped onto the table (this story would be funnier had it landed on Mya)  Despite my excitement - Mya wasn't interested in sharing my Purse Donuts! Her loss.

 

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         Fritule are different from your average donut in that there is yogurt, brandy, and zest in the dough. The brandy helps keep the donut from absorbing too much oil, and after frying they are dusted with powdered sugar just like a Beignet. Then you can drink the rest of the brandy! A lot of recipes I found online call for raisins in the dough but I felt that would have been overkill considering the grape jam. Nobody wants former grapes and current grapes taking up so much of their Fritule real estate. You can definitely add raisins if you decide to go without the grape jam or top these with Nutella instead. You really can't go wrong.

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The wax paper that  the grapes were roasted on was so pretty it reminded me of a painting!

It's OK if your fritule don't come out perfectly round, mine sure didn't. In fact, I wasted a lot of dough (and time!) trying to get them to be, and the result wasn't any different than just dropping the dough in by spoon.

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Croatian Fritule with honey-roasted  grape jam

 

Grape Jam (adapted from epicurious)

1/2 c. honey

1 lb. black seedless grapes (you can also use red or concord- just not green)
1 c.  white sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Drizzle grapes with honey and massage the grapes with your hands (messy!) so the honey is evenly distributed. Learn from my mistake and remove the grapes from the stems BEFORE doing this.
3. Roast the grapes for 15 minutes
4. After they are cool, puree grapes in a food processor with sugar.
5. Boil lemon juice and grape puree for about 20 minutes over medium heat until the pulp is broken down. I was worried that I was just going to end up with grape syrup but you will see the jam start to take form after this time. If it doesn’t, continue boiling and stirring until it thickens past a syrupy consistency.
6. The epicurious recipe instructs you to run the mixture through a food mill and discard remaining solids but I’m way too lazy for that and also I kind of liked the little chunks of fruit.

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Fritule

1 package active dry yeast
8 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 c. plain greek yogurt
2 c. milk
1 cup water
1 tsp. orange zest
1/4 c. brandy, optional
1 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
Coconut oil, for frying

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1 teaspoon of sugar in 1 cup of warm (not hot!) water. When yeast is dissolved and mixture is bubbly, add flour, salt, yogurt, zest, milk, water, and brandy. It should be the consistency of cake batter at this point so if it isn’t add water as needed to achieve this.
2. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and allow to rest for an hour.
3. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven to 350 degrees, and drop dough into oil by the spoonful. Once the dough has puffed up and is golden brown on one side, flip them and brown the other side. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.