Romanian Cheese Doughnuts – Papanasi
If you’ll ask any Romanian about what traditional desserts you should try, most certainly the first answer that you’ll get will definitely be papanași! Papanași (pronounce it ‘papanash’) are a kind of doughnut-shaped sweets made of cow’s soft cheese similar to ricotta or cottage cheese, flour, eggs, sugar, topped with delicious blueberry or sour cherry preserve and a good spoonful of sour cream! It’s the most popular Romanian dessert, so you’ll find it in all traditional Romanian restaurants, without a doubt.
Even so, I’ve noticed that some restaurants tend to use just a bit of cheese to make papanași, and that spoils the entire experience. Choose a restaurant which has good reviews if you want to try the real deal (I recommend Caru’ cu Bere, they have the best ones).
Well, this dessert can easily be prepared at home with just a few ingredients, so why not try making it yourself? The only thing that you should consider is to use a cheese which is similar to our Romanian cow’s sweet cheese, which can be compared to ricotta, even though it is a lot drier. Ricotta is creamier, and to make Romanian papanași, you’ll probably have to add a bit more flour until it’s easy to form the cheese doughnuts.
For topping the papanași, you can use almost any fruit preserve you prefer – strawberry, apricot, blueberry and sour cherries go best with the cheesy dough and the sour cream. My all-time personal favorites are papanași with sour cherry preserve, but recently I’m more into blueberries, so this time I chose this kind of preserve to decorate them.
How could you say no to this decadent dessert? Try it at home and I promise you’ll love it as much as all Romanians do. Oh, and remember that you ALWAYS have to eat two papanași at once – that’s the rule! 😊
For 6 papanași
300 g cow’s sweet cheese (or ricotta/cottage cheese)
1 large egg
70 g sugar
200 g flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
500 ml oil for frying the papanași
200 g fruit preserve
200 g sour cream
- With a fork, mix the cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest.
- Separately, mix the flour with the baking powder.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the cheese mixture. Depending on the cheese you’re using, you might need to add more or less flour. The dough should be soft and just a bit sticky, but firm enough to form doughnut balls with your hands.
- Spread some flour on your working surface and knead the dough for a bit to fully combine the ingredients.
- Form 6 large balls and 6 small balls, like in the photo.
- Using your finger, form a hole in each large ball.
- Heat enough oil in a pot to cover the papanași. Make sure the oil is hot – to do this, drop a bit of dough in the oil and see if it sizzles.
- Fry two large doughnuts ant two small doughnuts at a time, until they’re golden brown on each side.
- Transfer the doughnuts to a platter covered with absorbent paper to remove the excess oil.
- To make the papanași, use a large doughnut as the base, top with a spoonful of sour cream, then decorate with fruit preserve and put the small doughnut on top. You can also sprinkle some powdered sugar on top.
- There you have it, a traditional Romanian dessert that’s easy to prepare and bursts with flavor!