A celebratory sweet and crunchy bite, these Laughing Doughnut Holes, or kaikouxiao ("open mouth laughs") are traditionally made as a treat for the young on China's largest and century-old holiday, the Lunar New Year (also known as the "Spring Festival"). These are delicious served right after they are fried so plan to make them just before you serve them. Serve them with tea and coffee or milk for the kids!


  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unbleached pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raw white sesame seeds or black sesame seeds
  • 2 to 3 cups peanut or vegetable oil


  1. Mix the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, use a mixer to beat the butter, water, egg, brown sugar, and salt together to form a thin batter. Slowly mix in the flour and baking powder to form a soft dough.
  2. Place the sesame seeds in a medium bowl (or two bowls if you're using white and black sesame seeds). Use one hand to scoop out the dough and wet the other one to shape the dough into balls, each about the size of a walnut. Drop each ball in the sesame seeds, coating completely. Repeat with the rest of the dough until you have 20 or so small balls coated with sesame.
  3. Prepare a paper towel on a plate next to the stove. Heat the oil in a small sauce pan until a wooden chopstick inserted into the oil bubbles all over. Gently slide some balls into the hot oil. They will expand to twice their size so don't crowd the pan.
  4. Roll the balls around in the oil using your chopstick so they are evenly browned. When the balls are browned all over and have split, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on the paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the balls. Serve immediately, if possible.


Source: All Under Heaven by Carolyn Phillips 

February 01, 2017