06 May 2013

"Sambuca" Kisses by Nigella Lawson

I watched an episode of Nigellissima on board an SQ flight recently and was immensely curious and attracted to this particular snack that Nigella made. It looked so easy, with only a few ingredients - egg, ricotta, plain flour, baking powder, sugar, orange zest and Sambuca. I couldn't really imagine how it would taste like, so I was determined to give it a try.

Apart from her very sexy voice, the way she lyrically described the snack was particularly intriguing, almost poetic-like. How could one not be intoxicated when she used phases like,

"... they are like doughnuts made not of batter, but of sweet air... it is like the lightest, most flattering caress in the mouth..."

" ... they are so light they make frying feel celestial..."

I must confess, while I know that she's a celebrity chef and all, I have never watched any of her programmes or read any of her recipe books. I think I'm a convert for now. It's somewhat comforting to hear her talk and watch her cook, and she made it look so effortless.

Anyways, back to the Sambuca Kisses. Immediately after I alighted from the plane, I googled for the recipe. Initially I had no idea what Sambuca was, I only know it's some kind of liquer. Thankfully for the internet, I managed to find the recipe, as well as the video. Sambuca is an Italian anise-flavoured liquer; not sure where I could get it here. After reading through the Q&As posted in her website, I learnt that the Sambuca could be replaced by vanilla extract. Although it's a pity not to have the intriguing taste of "anise-flavoured" liquer, I guess some good quality Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract could be a fine replacement.

So there, I'm prepared to make my very own "Sambuca" Kisses without the Sambuca. And like Nigella said, no challenges at all.

Sambuca KissesBy Nigella Lawson
From Nigellisima
  • 1 egg
  • 100g ricotta
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (original 2 tsp sambuca)
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1-2 tsp icing sugar, to serve

  1. Put the egg and ricotta into a bowl and beat together until smooth.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, sambuca/vanilla extract, sugar and grated orange zest. Beat the mixture again to make a smooth batter.
  3. Pour about 2cm/1in oil into a frying pan, and heat until a small piece of bread sizzles when you drop it into the pan and browns in about 40 seconds (the temperature should be at about 180C/350F). And keep your eye on the pan at all times.
  4. Oil a teaspoon measure and gently drop rounded teaspoons of the ricotta batter into the pan, about four at a time is manageable.
  5. The little kisses will puff up slightly and turn golden underneath, so flip them over carefully with an implement, to colour the other side. Watch out that the oil doesn’t get too hot, turning the heat down if they are browning too quickly.
  6. Once they are golden all over, lift them out with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with one or two sheets of kitchen roll, to get rid of any excess oil.
  7. Carry on cooking until all the mixture is used up, then turn off the heat under the oil. Once the kisses have cooled a bit, push the icing sugar through a small sieve to dust them thickly.
  8. If you are not eating them straightaway, pop the pre-sugared cooked kisses on a rack over a tin in a 150C/Gas 2 oven, and keep them warm for up to one hour.
  9. Serve with an espresso, with one teaspoon of sambuca added, for each person.
The "Sambuca" Kisses were indeed a delightful snack, very light although it was fried. Very crisp on the outside yet very soft and tender inside. It looks like doughnut balls but not exactly. Taste-wise, very subtle hint of cheese only; icing sugar is definitely needed to accentuate the overall taste of these treats. Finally, I satisfied my curiosity.


  1. I love sambuca. Am keen to try this once I get my hand on a tub of ricotta. BTW, this liquer avail in airport or cold storage.

  2. Hi Edith, tell me how it turned out :) I'm really curious with the taste of Sambuca, before I decide to get a bottle.

  3. Very soggy results :( Great texture but it tasted like fish batter from the local fish and chips.