Friday was National Dog Day. I know this only because countless friends posted Facebook and Instagram photos of their beloved canines, and also because for Baked Sunday Mornings we made Chocolate Chip Hush Puppies from Baked Occasions in honor of said furry friends this week. I didn’t grow up with four-pawed pets in the house, so I never really understood the relationship between human and dog, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more able to appreciate cute dogs. I still don’t necessarily want to take care of one, but I like to think we can admire each other from a distance; I don’t want to be licked or jumped on, but ohmygod they’re so cute! Anyway, to celebrate the occasion, I was happy to fry up some Southern-inspired, chocolate chip-studded fritters… Unfortunately this wasn’t a win for me, but it was a promising idea.
As is often the case with recipes from BAKED, they put a fun twist on classic American desserts. In this case, they adapted traditional Southern hush puppies, which are usually savory fried cornmeal cakes, into a sweet version. I had such high hopes! I’ve only had hush puppies a couple of times in my life and loved them, and this recipe got me wondering about their history… because that’s the type of thing I wonder about. There have been many (mostly fabricated) stories over the years, but it appears that the fritters originated at “fish frys” on the riverbanks of South Carolina in the mid-1800s as an accompaniment to fried fish.
The batter is very easy to bring together. You’ll simply whisk the dry ingredients (pastry flour, cornmeal, light brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt) and add the chocolate chips. Then whisk the wet ingredients in another bowl (egg, egg yolk, sour cream, melted butter, vanilla extract, maple syrup), and add this mixture to the dry ingredients. We’re instructed to do this with our hands, but I folded it gently with a spatula. The batter was medium-thick and sticky.
So far, so good… It was in the cooking that things went south. (No pun intended.) I used a combination of sunflower and canola oils, only because I ran out of sunflower. The recipe says to scoop no more than 1 tablespoon of batter, which I tried to adhere to. Unfortunately, the batter pretty much disintegrated upon hitting the hot oil, so any semblance of “scoops” or “balls” was lost; the oil was full of burnt bits within minutes, which then got stuck to the subsequent scoops of batter.
I think the oil was probably way too hot, as the fritters came out of the oil very dark– they looked like weird, flat falafels before tossing in cinnamon-sugar. After the sugar application… well, you be the judge. 😉 I salvaged the ones that I could (had to break off burnt bits from the outside), and the maple syrup was a nice touch– I used Bourbon maple syrup as a nod to the hush puppies’ Southern heritage. The interiors tasted okay, but overall the fritters were very greasy and left my mouth feeling rather nasty.
The recipe is very clear in saying that these are best right out of the pan and don’t keep long, so I was absorbed in frying up all the batter as quickly as possible; once I pulled out the last blackened fritter, I looked up and was shocked to see that the whole house was filled with smoke! (Massive failure of our smoke detectors, yikes…) I ran to open all doors and windows and it dissipated pretty quickly, but WOW. And in that frantic state, I forgot to take pictures of the pre-sugared hush puppies.
These just didn’t work out me, and I wouldn’t try them again, given that the cleanup and wasted oil far outweighed the results. Normally I would probably try again, but because I’m currently being traumatized by an Italian Apple Cake that I can’t get quite right (I’m about to try v5.0…), I didn’t have the patience to start over. The book does mention that these could be baked, which I might consider at some point. If you are a better fryer than I, please do give these a whirl. You can find the recipe for Chocolate Chip Hush Puppies at Baked Sunday Mornings. While you’re there, take a look at the other bloggers’ results– I sure hope they fared better than I did! 🙂
UPDATE 8/29/2016: Other bakers in the group struggled with this recipe too, and it turns out that there was a print error in the recipe. The weight measurement of the pastry flour was incorrect, so those of us who weighed our ingredients had a runny batter that didn’t stand up to frying. The recipe on BSM has been corrected.
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2016.