Makes 5 dozen

Filhoses, or Filhó, are a traditional Portuguese sweet fried dough fritter containing pumpkin and whiskey and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They are a cousin to the slightly more popular Malassada. This recipe comes from my Mom’s side of the family, who are from Portugal. My Portuguese aunts and great aunts have been making this recipe for years, and it’s absolutely one of my favorite taste memories from my childhood.

My mom came to Brooklyn over the weekend to make these with me because we needed to summon as much Portuguese energy as possible. Of course, we made a few phone calls along the way—one to my Aunt Christine and one to my Cousin Dolores. These two get together regularly to make Filhó and, according to them, no one makes them better! Needless to say, they both helped us out a ton with their infinite Filhó wisdom.

We live for that energy around here, and I believe I made a few simplifying edits to the recipe that will help you too be the self-proclaimed BEST Filhó maker ever.

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  • Author: Dan Pelosi

What You’ll Need

Units Scale
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey or dark rum
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
  • 3 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar

What You’ll Do

  1. Grab the biggest bowl in your house, and combine the flour and salt in it. In a separate medium bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk, pumpkin, butter, olive oil, and whiskey.
  2. In a small bowl, stir the yeast into 1 cup warm tap water. Let the yeast bloom for about 5 minutes. Add the yeast mixture and egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, stir for about 5 minutes, first to combine the ingredients and then to knead the dough. (This dough is extremely sticky, so a wooden spoon will work better then hand-kneading.)
  3. Place the bowl of dough in a warm spot to let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Then use the wooden spoon to beat the dough back down to its original size.
  4. Clip a deep-fry thermometer to the side of a large Dutch oven and set it over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and heat it to 375°F.
  5. Meanwhile, fit a wire rack into a rimmed sheet pan and line the rack with paper towels. In a medium bowl, whisk the cinnamon and sugar together. Have both of these close to your oil so you can multitask, or invite a friend to come help! Better yet, call my mom, aunt Christine, and/or cousin Dolores—they will help you!
  6. When the oil is ready, use a big spoon to scoop up about 3 tablespoons of dough. Use a spatula to carefully slide the dough off the spoon into the oil. Add 3 to 4 scoops at a time to the oil, taking care not to overcrowd. Cook, flipping halfway through, until the filhoses are puffy and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Use tongs or a spider strainer to transfer the filhoses to the prepared rack to drain. Toss the finished filhoses in the cinnamon sugar and set back on the rack to cool for about 5 more minutes. Transfer the cooled filhoses to a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining dough, letting the oil return to temperature between batches, and swapping out the paper towels on the rack often.
  7. Serve the filhoses while warm. Cover with a kitchen towel on a plate and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, or seal them in a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 1 month. To defrost, leave them on the counter for a few hours or defrost in the microwave. Toss them in fresh cinnamon sugar before serving.

Make It Step By Step With Me:

1. First ingredient: My mom, a Portuguese Princess. If you do not have her, I am your substitution and I am RIGHT HERE.

2. Grab the biggest bowl in your house. Add 9 cups all-purpose flour*, 1 tablespoon, and 1 teaspoon salt to the bowl.

3. Stir to combine and then set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk 6 eggs.

5. Add 1 ½ sticks melted and cooled unsalted butter, 1 cup pumpkin puree, ¼ cup vegetable oil, ¼ cup whiskey, and 3 cups milk to the bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

6. Dissolve 2 packets active dry yeast in 1 cup of warm (100-110º) water.

7. Add wet ingredients and yeast to the BIG bowl with the dry ingredients.

8. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine, then still using the spoon knead the dough in the bowl for about 5 minutes. This dough is extremely sticky, so we won’t be kneading with our hands – it would literally be asking for tears.

9. Mom took her top off and kicked this dough’s ass while I watched in awe.

10. Place your bowl of dough in a warm spot for about an hour (or until the dough doubles in size as pictured above). My favorite place for dough to rise is inside of your oven. To do so, heat your oven to 200º, then turn it off and let it sit for 15 minutes. Place your bowl of dough inside and it will be just warm enough for the dough to rise nicely. I just wanna repeat: TURN OFF the oven 15 minutes before you put the dough inside!

11. Once your dough has risen, grab your wooden spoon and use it to beat the dough back down to its original size.

12. Grab a large, deep pot or dutch oven. Fill it will a couple of inches of vegetable oil and place it on medium-high heat. If you have a thermometer, you want your oil to be at about 375º. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can check your oil with a bit of dough to see how it responds. If it starts to fry immediately, you are good to go!

Please keep in mind, frying in hot oil is not a perfect science. You will need to play a bit and see how your dough responds. No stress allowed here, just have fun and be safe! Speaking of, you will want to warn everyone in your house you are frying, especially little kids and pets! THAT OIL IS HOT!

While your oil heats, you want to grab a large tray and line it with paper towels or a cooling rack for a place to put your fritters as they get done frying. You’ll also need a bowl of cinnamon and sugar mix to roll your fritters in while they are still warm. Have these close to your oven so they are nearby and you can multitask. Or invite a friend to come help. Better yet, just call my Mom, my Aunt Christine, or my cousin Dolores and they will help you!

13. Ok now let’s fry. Grab your bowl of dough, a big spoon and a spatula. Spoon about 2-3 (visual) tablespoons of dough out of bowl and use the spatula to drop the dough off of the spoon into the oil. The dough should be very sticky.

14. Fry your dough for about 4-5 minutes, flipping over half way. When they are gorgeous and golden brown, they are done.

15. Remove from oil and onto tray. Using tongs, toss your fritter around in cinnamon and sugar mixture and place back on tray.

Fry these in batches, and be prepared because you are going to make a lot here! Remember, you can always step away from the hot oil, leaving the heat on with nothing frying inside. Take a moment to regroup and practice deep breathing!

16. Once you have fried all of your dough, you will want to eat these within a day or two. They are perfect for gatherings and parties. Literally everyone loves them. We have them at every gathering with my Portuguese side of my family and there are never leftovers.

If you have any left for some odd reason, you can freeze these once they have fully cooled. Place them in a freezer bag and pop in the freezer. To defrost, leave them out on the counter for a while, or pop them in the microwave on “defrost.” You will likely want to roll them in cinnamon and sugar again once they’re defrosted.

IF you know you want to freeze a bunch of these, you can freeze them WITHOUT the cinnamon and sugar, as you can coat them fresh the day you want to eat them.

17. Enjoy!