Prestiños, Costa Rican-Style
Many Latin American countries have different versions of this fritter. Think of it as a flour tortilla, deep-fried, tossed in cinnamon sugar and then drizzled with sweet syrup. I remember having prestiños when I was a kid growing up in Costa Rica at many processions that took place (and still do) during Easter week commemorating different scenes from the passion of Christ. The processions were morbid with images of bloody saints, but the prestiños were a religious experience all on their own. Many years later, I hesitated to reproduce this recipe since I now live a few thousand miles away from Costa Rica and lack a few key ingredients, but the deep flavor of kumquats persuaded me to come up with this version so I don’t have to go without a prestiño during Easter anymore.
Yields: 8 prestiños
For the dough:
2 ¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup sugar
Zest from one orange, chopped finely
2 ounces butter, soft
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the syrup:
½ cup honey
½ cup kumquat candying syrup
¼ cup candied kumquats, minced (no seeds)
1 cinnamon stick
Rain the yeast over ¼ cup of lukewarm water, stir and let proof for 5 minutes. Sift the flour and salt over a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites. Whisk the whites with the sugar until foamy (they should hold a very soft peak) and then add the yolks and whisk until the mix is homogenous. Combine the yeast, orange zest and butter with the eggs, and pour this mixture into the well of dry ingredients. With your hands, work the ingredients together until they form a uniform dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead briefly. Flatten into a disc, wrap with plastic film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, make the syrup: combine honey, kumquat candying syrup, cinnamon stick and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring up to the boil, turn off the heat and let it sit until needed. Prepare the cinnamon sugar by combining sugar with ground cinnamon. Set aside.
Fill a large pot (at least 12-inches in diameter) with oil about 2-inches deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375º F.
While the oil heats up, roll the prestiños. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Cut into 8 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a 10-inch circle over a generously floured surface. Put rolled circles on a floured plate, stacking them on top of each other but making sure to sprinkle enough flour in between them so they don’t stick to each other. Fry one prestiño at a time on both sides, about one minute per side or until deep mahogany brown (you may need to push the prestiño with a ladle so that it fries evenly). Remove from the oil and lay the prestiño over a tray with paper towels. Once all the prestiños are fried, toss one at a time in the cinnamon sugar and then drizzle them generously with the syrup. Prestiños can be prepared ahead of time and will stay crispy for a couple of hours even if they are soaking in this delicious syrup. Enjoy!