LOUKOUMADES (Greek Honey Tokens)
These purely yummy poofy balls are the perfect dessert for a celebratory meal. Poet Callimachus called these "honey tokens" some time during the third century B.C. They were the first prizes awarded to winners of the ancient Olympics. The correct pronounciation is loo-koo-MAH-thes.

Yields approximately 36
Recipe printed in the Washington Post "Sunday Source" 8/22/04

2 1/4 ounces active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups warm water (105-115) -- divided
1 egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for frying
SYRUP:
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
TOPPINGS:
Ground cinnamon to taste
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a mixing bowl,mix the yeast and sugar into 1/2 cup of the warm water. When the mixture turns foamy (about 5 minutes), stir in the remaining 1-1/2 cups warm water with the egg, flour salt, nutmeg and vanilla. Mix until the batter is thick but smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise for about an hour. (don't stir again or it will deflate.) The result should be a bubbly batter.

In a deep fryer or a large heavy pot, heat four inches of oil to 375 F. making sure there are at least 2 inches between the oil surface and the top of the pot. This should take about 20 minutes.

While the oil is heating, prepare the syrup by combining the ingredients in a small bowl or a 2-cup measuring cup.

Working in batches, slide dollops of the batter (about the size of a heaping tablespoonful each) into the hot oil at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan. The dollops will puff up and float to the top. Turn the puffs occasionally with a slotted spoon until they are a deep golden brown on all sides and very crisp, about 2-4 minutes total. Remove carefully and drain on paper towels or brown paper bags.

Dust the puffs generously with cinnamon, drizzle with the honey-lemon syrup. and sprinkle with walnuts.

Copyright 2004 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved