Mele Fritte (Apple Fritters With Vanilla Sugar)

Time55 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8
© Rebecca Peloquin
(Rebecca Peloquin/Rebecca Peloquin)
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For these sweet, crunchy fritters, apple rings are lightly coated with a creamy batter, then fried until crisp and golden outside and tender within. My recipe was inspired by one found in Donatella Limentani Pavoncello’s cookbook “Dal 1880 ad Oggi.” She served the fritters as part of her family’s Hanukkah menu, but they also make great use of an autumnal apple-picking haul.

Pavoncello sprinkled her fritters with a homemade vanilla sugar, as do I. The recipe for the sugar makes a good deal more than you need for the fritters, but it keeps for a long time and is useful to have around for other baking projects. If you would rather skip that step, the fritters are equally tasty sprinkled with regular granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

Prepare the vanilla sugar: Split the vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds; set the pods aside. Put the sugar and vanilla seeds in a food processor and pulse until fully combined. Transfer the sugar to a glass jar, add the reserved pods, cover tightly and set aside. (The sugar can be used right away, but the flavor will develop over time. It can be stored, tightly covered, for up to 1 year.)


Prepare the fritters: Using an apple corer (or a melon baller or sturdy metal teaspoon), carefully remove the apple cores and discard. Slice the apples into 1/2-inch-thick rings and set aside.


Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the milk and whisk until smooth.


Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Line a large plate with paper towels and set nearby.


When the oil is hot, working in batches of four to five, dip the apple rings into the batter, let the excess drip off, and carefully slip them into the oil. Fry, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate to drain.


Sprinkle the fritters generously with vanilla sugar while still hot and serve immediately.

From “Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen” by Leah Koenig (W. W. Norton, 2023).
Make Ahead:
The vanilla sugar can be made up to a year in advance and stored, tightly covered. The flavor will develop over time.