My grandmother and her sisters sometimes make a quick dessert of caramel covered, deep-fried doughballs made from rice flour, macapuno, and water. They call these sweet spheres "Cascarone". Problem is, they also refer to another dessert that they make as "Cascarone" as well. This second "Cascarone" is also a deep-fried dough; but it is shaped by rolling it off of the tines of a fork (kind of like gnocchi) and covered with a white sugar glaze.
I’m confused too.
I guess the term "Cascarone" refers, in general, to a deep-fried dessert covered in sugar? I have no idea. I didn’t want to question my grandmother, lest I be finger-jabbed in my Adam’s apple. Further research into this matter was fruitless as well (and by research, I mean Google). I did however, find a similar dessert in my Memories of Philippine Kitchens cookbook that was referred to as "Bunuelos"–the dough was completely different, but these Bunuelos were shaped into spheres, deep-fried, and covered in syrup.
Anyhoo, I’m not sure why I’m so fascinated with the name of this dessert. It’s not that I don’t believe my grandmother, it’s just that I’ve never heard of "Cascarone" in this context before. If any of my Filipino readers could provide some clarity, it would be much appreciated. Until then though, I will just refer to this dessert as Brown Sugary Balls.
Brown Sugary Balls.
These are not to be confused with Chocolate Salty Balls. My Brown Sugary Balls are waaaay better. They are quick and easy to make and they really hit the spot. I’m serious.
All you have to do is mix some rice flour with a bit of water and some macapuno until a dough is formed. The dough shouldn’t be too sticky and should be easy to work with. Then, you can begin making separate bite-size spheres.
After you have shaped all of the spheres by rolling bits of dough between your palms, fry them in hot oil until they are golden (the spheres, not your palms).
Finally, after draining the spheres on some paper towels, throw them in a bowl and drizzle with some caramel.
Mmmm. Brown Sugary Balls. Sweet and crisp on the outside, chewy and coconutty on the inside.
Cascarone (AKA Brown Sugary Balls)
Yield: about 12-15 doughballs
1 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup water, divided
1/4 cup macapuno (macapuno is shredded coconut that can be found in jars at Asian markets)
For the glaze:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, baking soda, and half of the water (1/4 cup at this point) and mix well. Slowly add the rest of the water, little by little, until a dough is formed. You may not have to use all of the water.
Add the macapuno to the dough and mix well. If the dough is too sticky, add more rice flour if needed. The dough should be easy to work with.
Using your hands, break off small pieces of the dough (about 1 tablespoon) and roll between your palms to form spheres. Place the spheres on wax or parchment paper.
In a large frying pan, heat a half-inch of oil (canola or vegetable) over medium-high heat. Test the oil by gently dropping a small piece of dough into the pan. If the dough sizzles gently, the oil is ready. Place the rest of the doughballs in the pan and fry until golden brown. Place the fried doughballs on paper towels to drain.
Meanwhile, make the caramel by combining the brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar and water reach a boil, reduce heat and continue to stir until all of the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute.
While the doughballs are still warm, place them in a medium bowl and pour the caramel over them. Toss to coat the doughballs with the caramel. Serve immediately.