Midwinter is the perfect time for a party. So mark your calendar for February 28, Mardi Gras!
Traditionally this party, a carnival actually, is associated with New Orleans where they really do it up big with huge parades, a flotilla of fabulous floats, outrageous costumes and lots of great street foods. But the real reason for Mardi Gras is that it is the day before the autere season of Lent and for a lot of people that means giving up many pleasures for the next forty days until Easter! Mardi Gras actually means Fat Tuesday (Martedi Grasso in Italian) and the name is self-explanatory; eat and be jolly for tomorrow the blues will set in. These ethereal little puffs of sweet dough filled with jam or raisins and apples are a typical Venetian carnival food eaten on Fat Tuesday but they are good anytime and the technique for making the dough is similar to that for cream puffs.I suggest you call in the family, your friends and neighbors to enjoy these as they are made because they are at their best when eaten warm.
FAT TUESDAY PUFFS
MAKES 7 TO 8 DOZEN
Scant 1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 large eggs
2 Golden Delicious apples, cores, peeled, finely diced
2/3 cup raisins
4 to 6 cups canola or sunflower oil for frying
Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling
In a bowl sift together the cornstarch, flour, and baking powder.
Heat water, butter and salt in a saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat and vigorously stir in flour mixture.
In a small bowl mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside.
Place pot back on heat and stir until batter comes away from sides. Remove from heat; add sugar mixture and vanilla.
Add the eggs one at a time and stir vigorously to combine after each addition. Or use a hand-held mixer. Add apples and raisins.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer or heavy duty pan to 375F.
Drop tablespoon size portions of the batter into the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove the puffs with a slotted spoon and drain them on absorbent paper.
When cool enough to handle but still warm transfer the puffs a few at a time into a bag, and the confectioners’ sugar, Close the bag and shake gently to coat the puffs with sugar. Serve warm.
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