Portion/Yield:Serves 10 - 12
These fritters are great fun. They look like doughnuts but have a hidden treasure of apple inside each one. I could say something cheesy here and suggest that they provide one of your 5-a-day, but with the best will in the world, I think that would be a bit misleading! These pecan apple fritters are pure indulgence at its best and cannot be deemed as healthy in any way, shape or form? but they are truly scrumptious!
I must be honest though, there’s quite a lot of work involved to make these beauties, but they are so tasty and such fun to eat that they are definitely worth a try!
I am fond of nuts and I use nuts and seeds in a lot of my cooking. My step-grandmother had a couple of acres of land bordering onto the Sundays River near Addo in the Eastern Cape. We didn’t visit her very often, but the few memories I have of her include her pecan nut trees. She had quite a few of these trees on her land and grew pecan nuts to sell. She was a very stubborn lady and even at a very old age she would climb the trees herself to harvest the crop. My mother’s parents also had pecan nut trees, so as a family we used to have plenty of fresh pecan nuts. My mother freezes the nuts to preserve them as they do go stale and rancid if left too long.
For the fritter batter, I toast the pecan nuts in the oven for a few minutes before grinding them with the rest of the ingredients. The taste is great and it gives my apple fritters a slight sense of sophistication. You could substitute the pecan nuts for walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios or even almonds, if you wish.
Ingredients & Method
For the pecan apple fritters
- 100g pecan nuts
- 150g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 250g self-raising flour
- a pinch of table salt
- a pinch of ground cloves
- 150ml buttermilk
- 1 large free-range egg
- sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- 6 medium-small Discovery or Cox's eating apples
For the sweet cheese
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 80g icing sugar
- seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
First roast the nuts for the fritters. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
Spread the pecan nuts out on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 5 minutes or until lightly roasted but not too dark (roasting the nuts will give the fritters a delicious toasted pecan nut flavour). Remove from the oven and cool completely (the nuts can be roasted in advance, then cooled and stored in an airtight container, if you like).
To prepare the batter, place the cooled toasted pecan nuts and caster sugar in a food processor and process until the pecans are ground to a fine powder. Add the flour, salt and cloves and pulse a few times to mix.
In a small bowl, lightly whisk the buttermilk and egg together. With the motor running, slowly add the egg mixture to the pecan nut mixture in the food processor, blending until just incorporated. The batter will be quite thick, which is correct (you don’t want to make the batter too runny as it won’t then stick to the apples). Transfer the batter to a clean bowl and set aside.
Prepare the sweet cheese. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until well combined (if the mascarpone is a bit too thick, add a dash of buttermilk or milk to let it down slightly). Cover and keep chilled in the fridge until needed.
Finish the fritters. Heat some sunflower oil in an electric deep-fat fryer or in a deep frying pan to a temperature of 160°C (or until a small piece of bread browns within 20 seconds in the hot oil). While the oil is heating, prepare the apples. Leave the skin on the apples and remove the cores using a corer (leaving the apples whole). Cut each apple into 3–4mm-thick slices.
Once the oil is hot enough, dip each apple slice in the batter until completely covered, then place (in batches) into the hot oil and deep-fry for 3–4 minutes, turning regularly, until cooked, crisp and golden – you will need to deep-fry the battered apple slices in two or three batches. Using a slotted spoon, remove and drain the cooked fritters on kitchen paper and immediately dust them with extra caster sugar, then keep warm while you cook the remainder.
Place the warm fritters on serving plates and serve with the sweet cheese alongside.