Fried cheese doughnuts. *mic drop* Also known as papanasi (papanași) these are a traditional Romanian dessert that virtually any Romanian person will know and probably love. I also grew up eating these in Romania, the recipe originating in Moldova. My grandmother Tamara is from there and she made these a whole lot growing up, to huge acclaim and repeated demands for more. Living in Canada, I figured out my own version and the most ideal type of cheese to replicate a well-loved childhood favourite. Some people are more familiar with the boiled version that also includes semolina, and traditionally, these are topped with blueberry jam and sour cream. My preferred version is with homemade whipping cream, but feel free to try both and see which you like best. Make sure you serve these hot and fresh, for that beautiful crunch of the deep-fried outer layer, followed by the pillowy inside. YUM!
To a large bowl, add the cheese, egg, vanilla extract, sugar, lemon zest and salt. Mix with an immersion blender to break up the larger chunks of cheese, but do not mix into a smooth paste, it should still be rough. Mix in the baking soda and most of the flour with a silicone spatula, reserving a few tablespoons to dust working surface and hands. Knead dough lightly until it forms a ball. Do not overwork, as this will develop the gluten and make the doughnuts tough. The dough should be slightly sticky but manageable. Add the remaining flour only if necessary.
Cover the dough with a piece of plastic wrap touching the surface and let rest for 1 hour in the fridge.
Divide the dough into 5 balls, about 95g each. Using some of the remaining flour, dust your hands and shape each ball into a doughnut shape by slightly flattening it, then pushing a finger through the middle and gently rotating the doughnut around your palm. Place on a wax or parchment covered tray. Divide the 5th ball of dough into 4 pieces, and roll them into 4 balls that will be the top of each papanaș.
Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan until it reaches 338-347F (170-175C).
Fry 1-2 doughnuts and balls at a time, do not overcrowd the pan. The doughnuts will cook for about 6 minutes, 3 minutes per side, and the balls will cook for 4 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
To make whipping cream, place cold cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until fluffy and light. Do not overwhip. To assemble, place the doughnut on a plate and spoon sour cream (traditional) or whipped cream on top, then some runny blueberry jam. Add the ball in the middle and add a bit more cream and jam, letting it run down. Serve papanași hot and fresh. Enjoy!
I'm Alina and I love making fabulous desserts. My goal is to teach you how to make delicious desserts from scratch to impress your guests, friends, and family!
Baking with Alina