How to Make Hanukkah Donuts Like a Professional Pastry Chef

Israeli bakeries have become known for their increasingly ambitious sufganiyot every year. Patisserie chain owner Miki Shemo gives away his secrets, as well as 4 recipes.

Three of Miki Shemo's donut creations for Hanukkah.
David Bachar

Every year as Hanukkah approaches, us pastry chefs face the same dilemma — should we make classic donuts or try to reinvent the wheel? And every year, we decide to do both. Alongside classic sufganiyot, Israel’s bakeries have become known for their increasingly creative donuts with unusual flavor combinations. 

This year, I decided to merge classic donuts with classic desserts, each one with its own story. 

The desserts I chose include the classic French dessert Mont Blanc, inspired by a mountain by that name, topped with a heap of chestnut cream strings; and the Italian Ferrero Rocher nut and chocolate ball.

At the base is a donut that’s soft, airy and tastes good. Obviously you can take this donut recipe and top your donuts with whatever you wish. That’s one of the fun parts of Hanukkah — you can customize the flavor of your donuts to suit your tastes. Now, let’s get decorating.

Micky Shemo.
David Bachar

Makes 25 sufganiyot

INGREDIENTS
1 kilogram flour (2.2 pounds)
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water (360 ml)
3 large eggs
3/8 cup soft butter (75 grams)
4 teaspoons fresh yeast (60 grams)
1 tablespoon brandy (100 ml)
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1/4 lemon

Mix the four, yeast, sugar, water, butter vanilla and lemon peel for 10 minutes in a mixer fitted with a dough hook on slow-medium speed. 

Add the salt and the brandy and mix another 2-3 minutes, until the dough is smooth and uniform.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide into 25 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and place on a lightly oiled surface  wood is preferable. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave until doubled in size, about 75 minutes.

To fry, fill a pot with oil and heat. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side, for a total of 6 minutes of cook time per donut. Transfer to a plate covered with a paper towel to remove excess oil.

Mont Blanc donut.
David Bachar

Mont Blanc topping

INGREDIENTS
500 grams chestnut paste (pate de marron)
50 grams softened butter
50 ml cognac
25 small meringue candies 

Mix the chestnut paste, butter and cognac in a mixer. 

Place a meringue candy on top of each donut, and put the chestnut cream into a pastry bag fitted with a .5 millimeter tip. Squeeze the cream topping onto each donut. 

If you wish, you can top each donut with a chestnut and some powdered sugar for decoration.

Ferrero Rocher donut.
David Bachar

Ferrero Rocher filling

INGREDIENTS
150 grams milk chocolate, broken into cubes
300 grams nougat paste
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped and lightly toasted

Melt the chocolate over a hot water bath. Add the nougat paste and the nuts, and mix well. 

Put the topping into a pastry bag fitted with a 4 millimeter tip, and inject into the donuts.

Paris Brest donut.
David Bachar

Beaded chocolate topping

INGREDIENTS
1 cup (240 ml) sweet cream
300 grams dark chocolate, broken into cubes
chocolate beads

Bring the cream to a boil in a small pot. Pour over the chocolate, wait a minute until the chocolate melts, and stir until uniform. Let cool until warm. Pour the chocolate beads into a wide bowl.

Dip the top half of each donut into the chocolate cream, and then immediately into the chocolate beads, so that each donut is covered with chocolate beads.