RECIPE: Greek Cherry Loukoumades

Do you ever wish you had a Greek fairy godmother who'd whip you up the best Greek delicacies before your pumpkin loses its midnight magic? Maria Benardis, author of Cooking and Eating Widsom for Better Health, gave us a very "Greekalicious!" doughnut recipe so we can keep the Cinderella dress after all – if we can fit into it after eating a dozen doughnuts, anyway!

"I love these moreish doughnuts," she says, "because it includes three of my treasured ingredients: chocolate, cherries and mastciha (white gum resin, a quintessentially ancient Greek ingredient)."

Benardis says ancient jocks once feasted on doughnuts(!). Hmm, wonder what David Beckham would say about that. Would they be OK for his abs?

"I have taken a sweet that was offered in ancient times to victorious Olympic athletes as a prize – loukoumades or "honey tokens" as they were called then – and added the three ingredients to create what I consider to be a dessert my ancient ancestors would I am sure be pleased with."

Makes 20

Ingredients

1 sachet (7 g) dried yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange
1⁄2–3⁄4 cup cold water
20 fresh cherries, pitted
extra virgin olive oil, for deep-frying
11⁄2 tablespoons icing (confectioners’) sugar, to serve

Chocolate Sauce

1 teaspoon caster sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon masticha
100 ml thickened cream
100 g milk chocolate, broken into small pieces

Ready!

Place the yeast and warm water in a bowl and mix to combine. Place the flour in a separate bowl and stir in the yeast mixture.

Dissolve the sugar in the orange juice and slowly add this and the water to the flour, mixing until you have a smooth thin paste (you may need an additional 1⁄4 cup water.) Add the orange zest, then cover and set aside for up to 1 hour or until the dough rises and forms bubbles under the surface.

When the dough is ready make the chocolate sauce. Place the sugar and masticha in a mortar and pestle and pound until you get a smooth mixture. Place the cream in a small saucepan and warm over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and masticha mixture and the chocolate and stir until smooth. When it is ready remove from the heat.

Pour olive oil into a deep frying pan to a depth of 4–5 cm and heat. Using a tablespoon, add a large dollop of the dough with a cherry in the middle into the pan. Fry for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden brown, then remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat this process until all the dough and cherries are used.

While still hot, dust the loukoumades with a little icing sugar and serve with either a little of the chocolate sauce drizzled on top or the sauce on the side for dipping.