Apple Fritter Balls, Croatian Pašrate/Fritule a Recipe for Christmas Eve or Anytime
When it comes to Christmas Eve, what Badnjak celebration would be complete without Croatian Pašrate, which are fried apple balls made with walnuts, orange rind and may include raisins. They crunch in your mouth. Ideally soft in the middle, they are covered with a powdered sugar topping and are both sweet and grown up, like a fruit and nut Cadberry bar.
Some of the ingredients are bound to surprise you, but that's not important. The main thing is - they are inexpensive and easy to make. Luckily in winter, there is an abundance of apples to be found. Recipes for apples are bountiful but these are real gems.
The apple recipe is also known as Fritule in the Dalmatian dialect, like little fruities. It's true - they contain a little of everything - which is probably the reason why they are sweet and delectable.
And now for the world famous recipe. There are many variations, but this is my favorite...
Queen of Apple Recipes
Recipes for Apples, anyone?
Recipe for the Apple Fritter Cookies
In 1/2 liter (about two shallow cups) of milk, cook 1/2 a cup of Cream of Wheat. (Here it is called Gris, like Grease is the word...). In the milk, put 1/2 T. salt and 4 T. sugar. When the milk rises, add the Cream of Wheat and stir vigorously to prevent lumps. In about a minute, the entire pot should look like cement. This is a good thing. Let it cool - you have other things to keep you occupied for awhile....
In a separate bowl, combine 2 eggs, well beaten; 1 T. vanilla or two packets of vanilla sugar, finely ground lemon rind, finely ground orange rind. In 1/4 cup rum, soak two or three T. of raisins, lightly grate a cleaned, cored and peeled fresh apple (may be 1-1/2 apples depending on the size), and about 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts. To this you will add 2 tsp. baking powder, flour (as much as you need to get a nice dough but not too dry) - say about a pound of flour, or it could be less...
Mix well adding the Cream of wheat mixture. The batter should be homogeneous - no differences at all. If it seems to lack sugar, try to hold off. The apple balls fry better with less sugar, and they will be dusted with powdered sugar in the end.
Wait a few minutes for the batter to settle. Meanwhile, find a nice little shallow pot for heating up the oil. I try to fry only 6 or so at a time to have better control on how they are cooking. They may burn easily, best if they fry efficiently but moderately. They need turning over at the midpoint, so you do have to keep an eye on them. Luckily, the whole procedure goes very quickly. A batch may make as many as 60+ balls - that's five dozen - and in as little as half an hour.
If there are others at home, get help and start a production line. One person can sift the powdered sugar on the fritter balls as soon as they drain and are still hot and moist. Between frying, let the oil heat up again - this takes about a minute - before tossing the next set of apple balls in the pot. It the oil isn't hot enough, the cookies will turn out mushy and oily - no good.