Happy Mothers Day everyone!
Game of Thrones is a hugely popular show on HBO on Sundays. I read the first novel in the Song of Ice and Fire saga – A Game of Thrones – half a decade or more ago and was very excited when the show started t air. It’s gritty, suspenseful, action packed with a snaking, meandering, shocking plot that keeps you glued to the page, or screen. This is all well and good, but what does this have to do with Mothers Day? The show is full of mothers of all kind: fiercely protective ones, overly indulgent ones, vindictive ones and even a mother of dragons. I think it’s a great way to celebrate Mothers Day by acknowledging that parenting is different around the world, but mothers have always been and continue to be held in high regard no matter what culture you encounter, real or fictional.
George R. R. Martin’s novels are full of feasts with tables packed with platters of food, street vendors hawking their fare in crowded side streets and the general sights, smells and tastes of a varied and meticulously thought out cuisine of his fantasy world. Once such dish mentioned are Tyroshi Honeyfingers – a sweet street food – sold in the alleys of Tyrosh (a Free City in Essos) where one of the main characters, Daenerys the Mother of Dragons, spent part of her childhood. She remembers them fondly in a time where money and good memories were scarce.
“…we seldom had enough coin to buy anything…well, except for a sausage now and again, or honeyfingers…do they have honeyfingers in the Seven Kingdoms, the kind they bake in Tyrosh?” Daenerys Targaryen in A Game of Thrones.
The official cookbook of the series (yes there is one) called A Feast of Ice and Fire details what the recipe of Tyroshi Honeyfingers might be. The recipe is similar to an old Roman recipe for honeyfingers with hints of modern Italian Struffoli thrown in. These little pastry ‘fingers’ are totally delicious and so easy to make that I thought it was worth sharing. There are a lot of steps so it may look involved, but the part that takes the longest is actually shaping the pastry dough into small pastry ‘fingers.’ Otherwise these whip up and fry up quite quickly.
Street vendors had to be able to make these quickly so they would be constantly preparing large quantities of pastry dough that they can fry up fast for busy customers. With so much competition on a busy side street I would imagine honeyfinger vendors had to hook and lead potential customers to their stalls by the nose! This version is modified from the original version with my own touches to make it taste as well as smell even more delicious with just the right amount of sweetness. Let’s get started.
Tyroshi Honeyfingers – Game of Thrones Inspired – Recipe
Vegetable oil, enough for 1” depth in your frying pan
- 2 cups flour, sifted
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 tangerine, zested (substitute with orange)
- 3 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature cut into small pieces
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup warm milk
- ¼ cup warm water
For Honey Syrup:
- ¼ cup honey, good quality
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ cup water
- ½ stick cinnamon
- To make pastry dough: mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, zest of 1 lemon and the zest of 1 tangerine (or orange) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook attachment.
- Add butter one piece at a time and continue to mix on low speed until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add in egg, milk and water and knead at medium speed until dough is soft and elastic, 5 – 6 minutes. If mixture appears too dry add warm water a few drops at a time until desired consistency is achieved. If dough appears too watery, add more flour. If you do not have a stand mixer, you can knead by hand until similar results are achieved.
- Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes.
- To make Honey Syrup: in the meantime, warm a small, non-stick pan over medium heat. Add all ingredients under Honey Syrup and heat until honey and sugar melt together and the mixture starts to thicken once more, 4 – 5 minutes. Cover and set over warming zone as you work on pastry.
- To assemble Pastry ‘fingers’: heat a large, heavy bottom pan over medium heat; add vegetable oil an inch deep. Heat this slowly as you work on the pastry.
- Remove pastry dough to a clean work surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Wrap three pieces in cling film as you work on the first piece.
- Knead the first piece a few times until soft and roll into a long rope. This can be achieved by holding the dough between your palms and sliding your palms forwards and back in an alternating motion. Another way is to roll dough between the work surface and your palm until a long thin rope about the thickness of your index finger is achieved.
- Cut this rope into 2” pieces, arrange them on a tray and cover with cling film as you work on the other three pieces the same way.
- Once you’ve cut the pastry into ‘fingers’ you are ready to fry them. Test the oil’s readiness by frying one pastry ‘finger’ to see how long it takes for it to turn golden brown and cook our raw pastry dough on the inside. It should take about 1 minute. If the oil is too hot the pastry will brown too fast and not cook on the inside. If oil is not hot enough the pastry will become too soggy and not crisp up.
- Once oil is at the right temperature, fry the pastry fingers a few at a time for about 1 minute. Remove them from the oil and let them drain on a wire rack or paper towel. Keep them covered so they remain warm.
- Once you’ve fried half, you can arrange them on a tray and drizzle honey syrup on top.
- Fry the other half the same way, arrange them on the tray and drizzle them with honey syrup as well.
Serve warm with the remaining honey syrup on the side. This is great as a dessert with a cup of strong coffee or can be served at tea time for an elegant meal. The lemon zest and tangerine zest do not lose their fragrance even once the pastry is fried and will entice the nostrils as well as tastebuds. These will disappear fast!