Hanukkah Recipe: North African Debla Cookies

Debla, fried North African spiral cookies.
Debla, fried North African spiral cookies. Vered Guttman

Debla is a rose-shaped fried cookie that is dipped in sugar syrup. It is popular in Algeria and Tunisia, as well as the Morocco, where it is called fazuelos. Jews from these communities traditionally prepare this deep-fried pastry for Hanukkah, when it is traditional to eat fried foods.

This recipe yields about large 12 cookies.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2-3 tablespoons water (optional)

Ingredients for assembly:

Vegetable or corn oil for frying (about 5 cups)

Cornstarch for rolling

Sprinkles

For the syrup:

3 cups water

4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Put all dough ingredients except for the water in a bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook and knead for a couple of minutes to create a dough. If it is too firm you can add a couple of tablespoons water and knead again. Cover with a towel while you cook the syrup.

2. For the syrup, put all ingredients in a medium sauce pan, bring to boil over medium-high heat, reduce to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

3. Fill a medium sauce pan half-way with oil and heat over medium heat, covered, until very hot (this may take about 10 minutes).

4. Divide dough into two equal parts. Dust work surface and a rolling pin with cornstarch and roll dough as thin as you can, until almost transparent (if you own a pasta maker, you can use it). Straighten the edges with a knife, then cut dough into 1 1/2 - 2 inch ribbons, about 10 inches long.

5. Line a baking sheet with double layer of paper towel.

6. Make sure the oil is hot before you start by dropping a small piece of dough into it. The oil should bubble rapidly around it, but not too vigorously. Use a large fork to roll one ribbon around it, then transfer to the oil while the ribbon is still wrapped around the fork, holding the fork close to the side of the pan to prevent the dough from opening too quickly. Very slowly turn the fork to release dough, using a spoon in your other hand to help, as the dough puffs quite quickly and creates a rose shape. Flip dough in oil until golden on both sides and transfer to a baking sheet, repeat with the rest of the dough.

Reheat sugar syrup over medium-high heat. Add deblas, three at a time, and cook in syrup for about 30 seconds on both sides. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with sprinkles. Serve at room temperature.