The changing seasons have always been at the heart of chef Suzanne Goin’s cooking. Before small plates became de rigueur, her first restaurant, A.O.C., popularized the concept of farm-to-table tapas. Goin and wine director Caroline Styne, the team that helped create the modern wine bar, celebrate a decade of California cuisine in The A.O.C. Cookbook, released late last month. In it, the quietly deft chef shares all of the recipes that continue to make A.O.C. a landmark. The small bite we can’t wait to try (and share) this month? Her chocolate covered “pumpkin” fritters. Actually made with the more flavorful kabocha squash in place of pumpkin, Goin describes them as “pumpkin-pie doughnuts.” We’re sold.
Spiced “Pumpkin” Fritters with chocolate sauce and candied pepitas
Makes about 20 fritters
Note: While the fritter batter rises, prepare the chocolate sauce and fried pepitas.
½ kabocha or butternut squash, about 1 pound
1/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons dry yeast
3 cups all- purpose fl our
1 teaspoon kosher salt
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus a little for the bowl
1 extra- large egg
⅔ cup dark- brown sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 to 3 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
1 recipe Chocolate Sauce (recipe follows)
1 recipe Candied Pepitas (recipe follows)
- Preheat 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 ½ cup. (You can reheat any leftover purée, season it with salt, pepper, and butter, and eat it for dinner!) In a large bowl, heat ¼ 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 teaspoon 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 fl our 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. Let the batter 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 teaspoon 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 ¾ cup chocolate sauce, sprinkle with candied pepitas, and serve remaining chocolate sauce on the side for dipping.
3 oz. 68% dark chocolate
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
- Chop chocolate into small chunks, and place 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 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.
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
Generous pinch each of kosher salt, ground cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and ground cloves
1 teaspoon honey
- 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 coursely 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 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.
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.