Thanksgiving is very close to the first night of Hanukkah this year, which means both holidays are simultaneously on my mind! Last week I came up with a fun little dish that combines the two holiday traditions into one tasty treat– Sweet Potato Coconut Chremslach.
Chremslach (singular: chremsel) is the Yiddish word for a fried pancake, and it can appear in many different forms. The most popular chremsel is a pancake made of matzo also known as bubeleh. Chremslach can also be made from potatoes. Potato chremslach are very similar to latkes, with one major difference. Instead of shredding the potatoes, as we do with latkes, the potatoes are mashed and made into a thick batter before frying. Matzo and eggs can be added to bind the batter and keep the pancakes from falling apart. Chremslach often appear on deli menus as “potato pancakes,” and can easily be mistaken for latkes. While latkes are thinner and crisper due to the shredded texture of the potatoes, chremslach are more fluffy.
Sweet potatoes (the orange yam variety) are always part of our Thanksgiving menu, while chremslach are a traditional part of our Hanukkah celebration. Because Hanukkah is on the heels of Thanksgiving this year, it seems fitting to combine the two dishes into one. There are many sweet potato pancake recipes out there, some veering to the sweet side and some to savory. I decided to take it in the direction of sweet, using spices that I normally use in my candied yam casserole to warm up this holiday dish. Sweetened coconut provides a subtle nutty depth to the flavor. The result is a delicious little pancake that is crispy on the outside while soft and fluffy on the inside.
These sweetened chremslach are fun and different, and will bring a distinctly Jewish touch to your Thanksgiving table. I like them with a sprinkle of sea salt at the end of cooking. The combination of salty sweetness is super yummy (think salted caramel). Delish!
Kosher Note: If you want to keep this recipe pareve, use margarine instead of butter and make sure your other ingredients are certified pareve. There are several brands of sweetened coconut that are OU-certified parve including Publix and Wegmans. Just make sure you look for the hechsher, as some packages may carry kosher certification while others do not.
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- 2 lbs. orange sweet potatoes (about 2 large potatoes), peeled and cleaned
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp granulated white sugar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter or margarine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Dash of nutmeg (optional)
- 1 1/4 cup matzo meal
- Peanut or grapeseed oil for frying (about 2 cups)
- Sea salt to taste
You will also need
- a large skillet
- Cut the sweet potatoes into small chunks, then immerse them in water and boil them for about 30 minutes until tender.
- Drain them well and blot them with a paper towel to soak up excess moisture. Mash the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add to the bowl the coconut, eggs, brown sugar, sugar, butter or margarine, salt, spices and matzo meal. Mix ingredients with a large spoon until they are well blended. The texture of the batter will be soft, but it shouldn't be so loose that it falls apart. If the batter seems too loose or liquid, add a little more matzo meal to firm it up.
- Heat oil over medium; you will need about 1/2 inch of oil in your skillet for frying. Heat up the oil till it reaches 360 degrees F-- use a candy thermometer to measure heat. If you don't have a thermometer, test the oil temperature with a piece of bread. If the oil sizzles and the bread browns in 60 seconds, it's ready.
- Take about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture and form it into a slider-sized patty. Carefully place it into the hot oil to fry. Repeat until there are 3-4 patties in the frying pan (do not fry more than 4 at a time, or they will start to fall apart).
- Fry the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side until nicely browned and cooked through. Place on a cooling rack to drain and cool, or on two layers of paper towels. Continue to fry the patties in batches. When patties are done, sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.