Source: Whisk Kid
Makes about 15
1 package instant dry yeast
1/2 c water at 110F
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c milk, warmed
1/3 c butter, melted and cooled to room temp
1 egg, beaten and at room temp
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 to 4 c flour
Combine the yeast, water and sugar and let set about five minutes until the yeast is activated. Mix in the milk, butter, egg and salt, and begin adding the flour in about 1/2 c increments until it hold together. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead about fifteen minutes, adding more flour as needed. Place into a well-oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. Make filling (below) while the dough rises.
After the dough has risen, dump it onto a lightly floured surface. Gently flatten the dough with your fingers to redistribute the air slightly. Pinch off a walnut-sized ball of dough, then flatten into a round. Fill with about a 1/2 tsp of filling (below) or sprinkle the center with cinnamon and sugar. Fold up edges into a ball shape, pinching seams to seal. Set on a lightly floured tray and cover. Repeat until all of the dough is gone, then place the formed monkey balls in the fridge overnight, or at least 8 hours.
After the dough has rested, place it in an cool oven, along with a small boiling pan of water. Wait half an hour for the dough to warm and rise slightly. Meanwhile, heat oil to 365F and prepare a cooling rack by resting it upside down on a pile of paper towels to soak up excess oil.
After dough has risen for the final time, gently move two or three at a time to the hot oil. Fry about a minute on each side, then remove to cooling rack over towels, flipping after about 15 seconds to a clean area. Allow to cool slightly, then enjoy!
Monkey Ball Filling
It's completely fine to simply fill the balls with a dry mix of cinnamon and sugar, but I used the following combination. What can I say - I was channeling my inner Paula Dean!
1/4 c butter, softened
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Beat the butter until slightly aerated and add the cinnamon and brown sugar. Beat until light, about five minutes, then add the vanilla. Whip briefly to combine, then use.