Comelata of the Seas
I often say that I lead a charmed life. In fact, I think I’ve said it enough that now there’s something out there in the universe which makes it so.
The week before Thanksgiving, Eric and I were privileged to participate in the inaugural sailing of the largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas.
We never really envisioned ourselves as cruisers. Cruising vacations seemed to be the domain of older, moneyed travelers. In fact, it sounded kind of dull. What is there to do on a ship for days?
Once we experienced the Allure of the Seas, we experienced a conversion. We are definitely planning our next vacation on the high seas.
What did we do? well….we ate. A lot.
There’s so much I can tell you about the ship and all its fabulous features, but I want to focus on the Phenomenal Eating Experience.
There were twenty-six (26!) different food venues aboard the Allure of the Seas. And miles and miles of kitchens galleys. They make everything from scratch. All the bread. All the pastries. I was delighted to get a tour of the place where all of the culinary amazingness happens.
Cruising, I learned, is no longer just a main-dining-room-early-or-late-seating kind of thing. Besides the Dining Room there are 8 other specialty restaurants on the ship. Yes. Restaurants, people. Totally genius.
We sampled (and photographed) just about every meal. (We also managed to find a Cuban sandwich in one of the cafés, but that’s not important right now.) Our favorite restaurant by far was Giovanni’s Table. Yes, Italian. I know. Who AM I?
I think what I loved most about this is that the meal is served in courses – family style. Lots of dishes brought to the table at once and everyone gets to taste everything. It’s exactly the way I would do it if I was in charge. Just to add to the awesomeness, out of the 3,000 passengers aboard the Allure of the Seas, we happened to be dining with a table full of Cubans. (See? Charmed.)
But the dish that completely won my heart? Bomboloni. An Italian doughnut.
I’m definitely planning on making these for the holidays. Besides, it’s just fun to say. Come on. Say it with me. “Bomboloni.” You smiled just now, didn’t you?
Prego! (That means “you’re welcome” in Italian.) ;-)
The following recipe is from the Carte du Jour Cookbook – the best recipes from the Restaurants of Royal Caribbean International.
Bomboloni alla Toscana (Tuscan Doughnuts with Warm Chocolate Sauce)
- 1 Tbsp. dry yeast
- 2 Tbsp. lukewarm water
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup granualted sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter – cubed
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup chocolate sauce, purchased
- Place yeast and water into a small bowl and mix until yeast has dissolved.
- Place flour, eggs, sugar and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed for 10 seconds. Add yeast mixture and milk and beat for 3 minutes at medium-high speed or until dough holds together. Add cubed butter and beat for another 5 minutes or until dough no longer sticks to the side of the mixing bowl.
- Remove dough from mixing bowl, spread over a lightly floured baking sheet and flatten until it is about 3/4 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, for custard, combine milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
- In a glass or stainless steel bow., whisk together egg yolks and sugar for 5 minutes or until mixture has thickened, add flour and mix well. Discard vanilla pod and incorporate hot milk into egg mixture a little at a time, whisking constantly,
- Transfer mixture back into the saucepan and slowly cook over low heat for about 10 minutes or until mixture pulls from the sides of the saucepan. Do not boil. Stir often. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- To finish bomboloni, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and cut into circles using a 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter.
- Place disks on a baking sheet covered with greased parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof, at room temperature, for 2 hours.
- Fry doughnuts, in batches, in hot oil for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
- Fill the center of each mini doughnut with custard by using a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip, and roll into granulated sugar.
- Served warmed bombolonis on dessert plates with a side dish of chocolate sauce. Serves 6.
[In the interest of full disclosure: Royal Caribbean paid all of my travel expenses for this cruise. The fact, that I fell in love with cruising in general and the Allure of the Seas specifically and of course, with the Bomboloni, was a wonderful surprise. Thank you, RC!]
Let the comelatas begin!