TikTok personality, entertainer and recipe developer Eitan Bernath is taking his recipes from the “For You Page” and putting them on your Chanukah dinner table—some assembly required.
The 19-year-old chef first appeared on Food Network's Chopped at the age of 12 and has since become an internet and culinary scene sensation. Today, he's put his innovative mind to the classic croquembouche, giving it a cultural spin and sharing the recipe with all of our readers.
“I have always loved seeing croquembouche during the holiday season, and of course, they're as delicious as they are beautiful," Bernath says, "but I've never really gotten to make one since they're traditionally made for Christmas. I decided to take the concept of the recipe, and change it to honor the traditions of Chanukah.”
The twist comes from his substitution of doughnut holes, one of his all-time favorite desserts. In his version, blueberry jam fills the inside with powdered sugar for garnish.
Bernath advises those recreating the recipe to “proof your yeast before you begin making the rest of the dough to make sure it’s alive." Additionally, make sure to invest in a deep-fry or instant-read thermometer to make at-home deep-frying easier. Lastly, constantly turn the dough while it’s frying to make perfectly even and golden brown doughnut holes.
The recipe below takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes of prep time as well as 40 minutes of cooking time, and serves six to eight people. Impress your friends and family with this festive delight!
- 1 (¼ ounce) package active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water (about 100°F)
- ¾ cup milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups (520 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- Vegetable oil, for frying
Filling, Assembly and Garnish
- 3 cups jam of choice, divided (Bernath uses 2 jars of Blueberry Bonne Maman brand)
- Powdered sugar, for serving
- In a small saucepot over low heat, add milk and butter, and cook until the butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to 95°F - 105°F.
- While the milk and butter mixture cools, pour warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Sprinkle yeast over the water and allow to proof for 5 minutes.
- Once the yeast has proofed, add egg, sugar, salt, warm milk mixture and half the flour to the bowl. Mix on low until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining flour, then increase speed to medium. Mix until a ball of dough forms and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes. If the dough does not cleanly pull away from the sides of the bowl, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix on low for 1 minute. Repeat this process until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Continue kneading for about 4 minutes, or until dough is fairly smooth and elastic.
- Place dough in a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Once the dough has risen, turn out onto a clean work surface and divide roughly in half. Gently roll one half into a long, 1-inch thick log, and then cut into 1-inch long pieces, so that you’re left with roughly 1 x 1-inch pieces of dough. (Note: 1 half of the dough will roll out to be 3+ feet long, so if the workspace is limited, cut dough into quarters before rolling.)
- Gently gather and pinch the rough edges of each piece together at the top to form a rough ball, then roll the ball over so that the pinched edges are against your work surface. Use a cupped hand to roll the ball in small, tight circles against your work surface to seal the edges together and form a smooth ball of dough. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
- Place dough balls on a parchment-lined sheet pan, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until slightly puffed, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- While the dough rises, preheat 2 inches of oil in a large, deep pot to 375°F and set a racked sheet tray nearby. Once the dough rises and oil is preheated, use a spider or large slotted spoon to gently add about 6 dough balls to the oil. Fry, tossing constantly for even cooking, for about 1 minute, or until puffed and golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack, and continue working in batches until all doughnut holes are fried. Allow cooling for at least 5 minutes before filling.
- Transfer one jar of jam into a large plastic bag with a ¼ inch cut from a corner, or pastry bag fitted with a ¼ inch round tip.
- Use a skewer to poke a hole in the center of each doughnut hole and gently swirl the end of the skewer to make room for the jam. Slowly fill each doughnut until the jam begins to seep out, then set aside, hole side up.
- In a small saucepot, heat ½ cup jam over medium heat, stirring often, until slightly thickened and darkened in color, about 5 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the reduced jam to a heatproof bowl. Rinse saucepot out, fill with about 1 inch of water, then place back on the stove over medium-low heat until simmering. Place bowl of reduced jam in saucepot to create a double boiler so that the jam stays pliable.
- Working as quickly as possible, dip the hole-side of a doughnut into the thickened jam and press it against another doughnut. The thickened jam will hold them together. Attach two more doughnuts, so that you have a square bottom layer made of 4 doughnut holes. Using the same method, create a layer made from 3 doughnuts in a triangle shape, and place it on top of the square. Finally, dip one doughnut into the thickened jam, and place it on top of the second layer to form a pyramid. If layers are not stable enough to stack immediately, allow them to sit for about 5 minutes on a flat surface before stacking.
- Repeat until all doughnut holes are used, creating 6 to 7 mini croquembouche, depending on the number of doughnut holes you have.
- To garnish, heat ½ cup jam in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until loose and pourable. Use a spoon to drizzle croquembouche with jam, then top with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
Look for Bernath's Eitan Eats The World: New Comfort Classics to Cook Right Now book coming in 2022, and follow the young chef on TikTok for more good eats inspiration.