Not the Same Old Sufganiyot


I’m certainly not the first person to write about sufganiyot in Israel during Chanukah time, and I certainly won’t be the last.  There are many stories out there delving into the reason we eat fried food during Chanukah and the origins of sufganiyot (Israeli doughnuts). And so I will not repeat those stories here – you all know how to Google.  Let’s talk about what’s really important when it comes to sufganiyot – where should you go to get a good one and what is up with all these new fangled fillings?  Is it a good thing or short-lived obsession?

Gone are the days of the traditional jelly filled doughnut covered in sugar to help absorb the excess oil.  Sufganiyot are now art. They come in a myriad of flavors and fillings – from whipped cream to chocolate cream or dulche de leche to passion fruit to serious specialty flavors such as chocolate champagne and whiskey caramel.  They come iced and beautifully decorated with artistic designs, assorted sprinkles and/or candy (particularly the very popular Israeli Nok Out candy), and an artful dollop of the type of filling to remind you exactly what you are about to eat.  They are light and flavorful and not greasy.  These are not the sufganiyot of yore.  And so far, my personal consumption count is at 6.5 donuts (yes, I know Chanukah has not really begun yet).

Everyone is attempting to get in on the act.  In fact, Aldo (the gourmet ice cream store) just this week has added “American Style” donuts to their repertoire, and put up a glass enclosed case, with a logo oddly reminiscent of Dunkin Donuts in the States.  We can only assume that Aldo finally saw the symbiotic relationship between ice cream and donuts that Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts discovered a long time ago; ice cream stores are empty during the morning/early afternoon and donut stores are empty in the afternoon/evening .  But if they co-habitate, well traffic in the store doubles. But I digress.

My husband is extremely interested in when all these new fillings came into play, especially given the fact that in the States we still seem to see only the more traditional “jelly” filling.  Me, I’m less interested in the when and a lot more interested in the which.  So yesterday we went straight to what I believe to be the epi-center of post –modern sufganiyot, Roladin Bakery where they are clearly leading the charge, flyers in hand.  By the way Roladin has a great website where you can see all the assorted flavors up close and also get baking tips and recipes.

After taking home one of each kind on the flyer – we had two votes cast for one of the “special edition” sufganiyot of the season Sweet Popcorn.  It definitely topped Steve’s and my list with it’s salty sweet combo and is worth the destination trip.  Sadly, we only had that one among us and so a return trip for another will clearly be in order.  Jake, true to form, voted for marshmallow, and Sammy went more traditional with a vote for the chocolate/chocolate.  We also tasted numerous others including – whisky caramel, pistachio cream, halvah cream, chocolate & whipped cream, chocolate champagne, and dulche de leche, to name a few. And they were all good.  Only the halvah cream (which I was the only one to try) missed the mark.

So to answer the question, is this trend here to stay and is it a good thing?  Well, best I can tell it’s not going anywhere if the scores of bakers’ trays filled with all kinds of sufganiyot are anything to tell by.  And is it a good thing?  Good thing there are eight days of Chanukah – I’ve got a lot of bakeries to visit.

p.s.  I’ll be reserving the right to update both my consumption count and my favorites as I make my way through the bakeries around Jersualem.

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