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Spiced “Pumpkin” Fritters with Chocolate Sauce and Candied Pepitas

Shimon and Tammar Rothstein

Yield: Yields about 20 fritters

Think of these as pumpkin-pie doughnuts. Do I need to say more? Oh, with chocolate sauce and candied, spiced pepitas. I actually find fried desserts to be great for dinner parties. You can do the prep ahead and still get that wow factor at the table— I mean, who doesn’t like pumpkin pie and doughnuts? You will notice that these “pumpkin” fritters are actually made using winter squash. I find real pumpkin to often be very watery and lacking in flavor so I prefer the richness and sweetness of squash such as kabocha or butternut.

This recipe is excerpted from The A.O.C. Cookbook. Read our review.


For the fritters

  • 1/2 kabocha or butternut squash, about 1 lb.
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp. dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus a little for the bowl
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 2/3 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 to 3 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup Chocolate Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Candied Pepitas

For the chocolate sauce

  • 3 oz. 68% dark chocolate
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder

For the candied pepitas

  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • Generous pinch each of kosher salt, ground cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. honey


Make the fritter dough

  • Heat the oven to 400°F.
  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and place on a baking sheet cut- side up. (Don’t remove the seeds yet; they give extra flavor.) Cover with foil, and roast for about 1 hour, until very tender. Let cool for 10 minutes, and then scoop out the seeds and discard them. Purée the warm squash through a ricer or food mill, and measure out 1/2 cup. (You can reheat any leftover purée, season it with salt, pepper, and butter, and eat it for dinner!)
  • In a large bowl, heat 1/4 cup water and the milk to body temperature. Sprinkle yeast evenly across the surface, and allow the yeast to bloom for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Whisk the flour, salt, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and the other spices together, and then sprinkle across bloomed yeast. Make a well in the center, and set aside.
  • Combine the squash purée, butter, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla, and pour into the well of the dry ingredients. Fold together with a rubber spatula until incorporated; be careful not to overmix the batter, or the fritters will be tough. (Some specks of flour are OK.)
  • Lightly brush a large bowl with melted butter. Scrape batter into the bowl, and flip the batter upside down, so that all sides are covered with a little of the melted butter. Cover with plastic, and allow the batter to rise in a warm, draft- free place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Make the chocolate sauce

  • Chop the chocolate into small chunks, and place it in a large bowl.
  • In a saucepan, combine the sugar with 2/3 cup water, and bring to a boil.
  • Add the cocoa powder to the boiling water, and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil again, whisking constantly, and then immediately pour the water over the chopped chocolate, and let it sit for 1 minute to melt the chocolate. Whisk together until combined, working from the inside out, to emulsify the mixture. Cool to room temperature.

Make the candied pepitas

  • Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the seeds release their aroma and are lightly browned. Pound them coarsely in a mortar.
  • Melt the butter in the cumin pan over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and sugar, then sprinkle the salt and spices over them. Toss the pumpkin seeds to coat them well with the butter, and cook for a few minutes, until just after they begin to pop and color slightly.
  • Turn off the heat, and wait for 30 seconds. Add the honey, tossing well to coat the pumpkin seeds. Spread on a plate, and let them cool.

Fry the fritters

  • After the batter has doubled in size, let it rest for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, and then bring it to room temperature when you are ready to fry. (Chilling the batter in the fridge develops the flavor and creates more tender fritters.)
  • Combine 1 cup granulated sugar with the remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon in a large bowl, and set aside.
  • Heat the oil to 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer, over medium heat, in a heavy, wide-bottomed pan.
  • Scoop heaping tablespoons of batter, and use a second spoon to push rounded spoonfuls into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan; the fritters shouldn’t be touching. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until deep golden brown on all sides.
  • Drain the fritters on paper towels, and pat to remove any excess oil. While they’re still hot, toss fritters in the bowl with cinnamon- sugar mixture. Pile the fritters up on a platter, or divide among six dessert plates. Drizzle with 3/4 cup chocolate sauce, sprinkle with candied pepitas, and serve remaining chocolate sauce on the side for dipping.


Excerpted from The A.O.C. Cookbook by Suzanne Goin. Copyright © 2013 by Suzanne Goin. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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