Donut Sisters

November 18th, 2013 :: 4 comments :: permalink

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DonutSistersCoverDuring a casual conversation with coworkers, someone let slip that they had a deep-fryer at home. I felt my mind snatching this slip of information from mid-air and filing it away for future intentions. Seasons later, I realized I was going to be going through yet another Chicago rainy fall and winter and that this former Texan needed something stronger than hot tea and wooley socks to get out the door and to work. I needed doughnuts to go nuts for.

Because doughnuts are becoming a popular item to buy in both intimate corner bakeries and restaurants offering fine dining experiences, or perhaps through kismet, I ran across a doughnut cookbook in the library that turned out to be excellent for its base recipe and new ideas. ‘ Glazed Filled Sugared & Dipped’ by Collucci.

Joann and I flipped through the book, throwing out a rabble of doughnut ideas…whatever popped into our heads. We quickly decided to use the same cake doughnut recipe to learn and experiment with two different flavor variations, Roasted Coconut Sugar doughnuts for her, Rosemary-Blueberry for me.

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EQUIPMENT:Standing mixer, rolling pin, deep-fryer or deep stock pot, baking sheet (or other flat transferable surface)
INGREDIENTS:
Using the basic cake recipe for doughnuts Collucci provided:
1) 3 cups all-purpose flour 2) ¾ cup sugar 3) ½ teaspoon baking soda 4)1 teaspoon baking powder 5) 1 ½ teaspoon salt 6) Zest of half a lemon 7) 2 large eggs 8) 1 large egg yolks 9) ½ cup buttermilk 10) 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 11) ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and 12) Enough vegetable oil to submerge for frying

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INSTRUCTIONS:
1)
Ahead of time, melt butter and let cool
2) Gather dry ingredients together in a bowl: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.
3) Pour into a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low for a couple of turns to help mix everything together.
4) Add the following wet ingredients: whole eggs first, mixed for a few turns, then the egg yolk, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.
5) Mix until it comes together as dough that can stand by itself.

*At this point, I added my variation to my half of the dough. ½ tsp of chopped rosemary and chopped blueberries

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6) Scrape the dough onto parchment paper or plastic film set on the baking sheet. Roll out dough until it is somewhere between 3/8  to ½  in thick. Top the rolled dough with a second piece of parchment or plastic film. Refrigerate the dough on baking sheet for 30 min to 1 hr.
For all the fuss over the deep-fryer, we ended up not using it, but enjoyed compete success with a deep stock pot.
7) Heat at least two inches of oil in the stock pot until it is 350 degrees.
8) Cut 2 ½ to 3 in. doughnut rounds. We had a biscuit cutter and used a the wide part of a metal piping tip to make the doughnut holes. Use what you can if you don’t have a doughnut cutter.
9) Fry several doughnuts together, but not so many that the pot becomes over crowded and it becomes difficult to flip doughnuts one at a time. Fry a minute per side.
10) Remove and set on paper towels.

 

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A basic glaze was very simple and quick. 1 cup of confectioners/powdered sugar mixed with two tablespoons of milk or water until the lumps are gone.

I made a topping station so I could quickly dunk the tops of the doughnuts in bowls of garnish after first dunking them half-way into the glaze. My rosemary was ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary and 2/3 cup sugar.

Joann’s roasted coconut topping was a mix of  ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, roasted golden brown in the oven, 2/3 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt. This made a cup and was enough to use on all of her doughnuts.

DonutSisters6A plain doughnut from this recipe had a stronger lemon taste than I had expected, but it actually worked well and brightened the flavors we added. It worked especially well with the blueberry and rosemary.

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Relaxing with my niece was a nice way to finish the day. And having a little hill of fried doughnuts to eat the next chilly-blue morning was worth all our effort.

Pro-fig-eroles

October 26th, 2012 :: 2 comments :: permalink

I’ve only seen figs in passing, but have had an admiration for this seemingly passé fruit with alien like insides. Figs alone are not very sweet… at least for someone with a major sweet tooth like myself, but I was certain I could make a sweet treat using them.

I knew I wanted to make some sort of pastry to accompany a fig sauce and I’ve always liked profiteroles. On one of my visits to Nebraska as a young child, my grandmother served me this fluffy pasty with ice cream. Even better, I learned that they ate dessert at both lunch and dinner. I was in heaven.

First preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Gather all your ingredients for the profiteroles. That’s 1/2 cup water, 1/2 stick butter, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 3 eggs.

In a saucepan, combine the water, butter and salt and bring to a boil.

After it starts to boil, reduce the heat and add the flour. Stir the mixture with a good amount of force.

Once the mixture has combined completely and forms into a ball, remove the pan from heat.

Let the mixture sit for 2-3 minutes and then add the eggs one by one, mixing each egg fully into the batter before adding the next one.

Edna (my sister and helper), has strong arms from working as a cook, so she was able to stir the batter sufficiently vigorously. If you aren’t that hardcore, there is nothing wrong with using an electric mixer. Not everyone has a sister with a culinary arts degree at their disposal!

I just bought a non-stick silicone baking sheet which works great, but regular parchment paper would also have worked just fine. After filling a pastry bag with all of the batter, we took turns squeezing out little dollop shapes. You can also roll the batter into balls if you don’t want to worry about making the shapes perfectly. The dollops grow rather large once you bake them, so keep some space between each one.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until they are fluffy. Make sure they don’t burn. Cool on a rack or place the pastries on a room temperature plate to cool.

For the sauce, all you need is a handful of peeled figs, 1/4 cup of white sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 cup water, and one tablespoon of butter.

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer or a very light boil. I didn’t want the sauce to reduce too much, so I only cooked it for 5 minutes. Then remove from heat and set aside to cool.

My goal was to  create a lighter and brighter alternative to the chocolate-doused profiteroles I love. My fig sauce didn’t have the sweetness I usually get with a chocolate sauce, which was a problem for a moment, but adding a small scoop of vanilla ice cream brought everything together nicely, so that’s the way we ate them. While doing so, we talked about what to call this little project. Dustin had a good idea. Pro”fig”eroles.

Bread Pudding with Blueberries

July 6th, 2012 :: 4 comments :: permalink

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I have been craving bread pudding for a while and a recent trip to a local farmers market created the perfect opportunity to get all the necessary ingredients. I have only had bread pudding a couple of times throughout my years, but I really like the moist french toast texture and the not-too-sweet flavor. While roaming about the market, Edna (my sister) and I brainstormed how to make our own bread pudding, while Dustin ignored our sisterly rambles and giggles and tried not to get heatstroke.

This was our first time at a farmers market, so everything looked especially appealing. I was sure I wanted to use a fruit of some sort on the bread pudding to add a bit more texture and visual appeal, but with so many choices the decision was tough. I settled on wild blackberries because I still have memories of picking and eating wild berries as a child with my dad in Germany. The berries from the market seemed less tart than I remember.

Edna and I came across the most beautiful pretzel bread and started talking about different ways to use it. We weren’t a hundred percent sure how it would work out, but we wanted to try using the outer crust of the bread as an edible bowl for our pudding. We ended up buying eggs, jam, and an array of veggies and fruits. Our rule after we got home was to eat at least three fruits and veggies a day so nothing went to waste.

The recipe is pretty simple: 4 small breads, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 2 eggs (beaten), 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup milk, and a handful of blackberries.

The outer crust was just tough enough to keep it’s shape after we carefully tore out the soft, fluffy bread inside. In a bowl we mixed the melted butter, beaten eggs, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and milk together with the pieces of left over bread. Then we let it sit for 5 minutes. We placed the moist bread mixture back into it’s original bread shell and tossed in some of the wild blackberries. Edna poured some of the left over liquid from the bowl on the pretzel bread shell, along with some sugar to make it a little softer and sweeter. Then we put our stuffed pretzel bowls in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Dustin lucked out this weekend and was tasked only with making the whipped cream. Everything came together perfectly and was fairly simple to make. Using the outer shell of the bread as a bowl made for easy cleanup and created another little tasty treat. Who wouldn’t love that? Who?!

Full recipe follows.

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Raw Chocolate Cake with Raspberries

June 26th, 2012 :: 12 comments :: permalink

What a busy few weeks. There have been work and personal engagements, planning for a wedding, and my sister just moved in with us for a month or two. I have still been cooking as usual, but haven’t had time to document as much as I’d like. I also need to add getting in shape to my list, because it’s crunch time (pun intended, love puns) with only a month and a half to go until our big day. I just signed up for CrossFit and a few boxing classes. I let you know how all that goes. I think I have fairly healthy eating habits, but Dustin and I both have trouble resisting our sweet tooth. Last week I was really craving something decadent, but didn’t want the guilt afterwards, so I decided to make a raw chocolate cake with raspberries.

A lot of raw recipes use nuts of some type as a base. You start this recipe by grinding 1/2 cup of almonds in a food processor. In our pre-processor days, I would grind the almonds in a plastic bag by hitting them with a blunt object. I do not recommend that method!

I combined the ground almonds with 2 Tablespoons Cacao, 1 Tablespoon agave, and 1 Tablespoon coconut oil. As you mix all the ingredients, the agave and coconut oil help the mixture stick together. For that reason, agave and coconut oil are staple ingredients in many raw desserts.

Pat this mixture into a 2 -3 inch mold to make a perfect circle. Make sure to apply some pressure so it creates a solid base. This will be the crust for the cake. I used a little coconut oil on the metal molds so the crust wouldn’t stick. Keep the crust in the mold for now so the next ingredients layer up nicely.

Place fresh raspberries on top of the crust.

Next is the most important part, the chocolate topping. Whisk 1/2 cup cacao powder, 1/2 cup agave and 1/4 cup coconut oil. The mixture isn’t terribly fluffy, but will firm up once it’s in the refrigerator. Drizzle the chocolate on top of the raspberries. It creates a very pretty mid layer.

Then top with a few more raspberries finish things off.

With the cakes still in the mold, put everything in the refrigerator for around 20-30 minutes. If they are still a little soft, then give them a bit more time.

Dustin and I straight up devoured every single bite. Part of me wondered how something so good could still be (mostly!) healthy for me, but there is no disputing the ingredient list. With our sweet tooth completely satisfied and our bellies full, we decided to reward ourselves again with a Sunday afternoon nap. It was a good day.

Pate Brisée Fruit Crisp

March 16th, 2012 :: 6 comments :: permalink

This winter we were all about comfort food, which worked out great for baking, keeping the house nice and toasty, and making the apartment smell awesome. Now that the weather is quickly shifting to spring like, our appetites and eating habits are in need of change. This brisée fruit crisp isn’t super sweet, but light and crispy and exactly what I had been craving.

Well, maybe “light” is a relative term–look at all of that butter! Making the dough is really easy if you have a food processor, much messier if you make it by hand. The final product isn’t super sweet, but a great balance between the richness of the butter and the tart flavors of the raspberries.

I made the dough in the evening and refrigerated it overnight. The next morning I was ready to continue so I began by rolling out the dough with a rolling pin. As an added bonus, you can freeze extra dough for later. I had a few pears handy, so I decided they should join the raspberries at the bottom of my pastry.

Wrapping the dough around the fruit may seem like a complex task, but there is really is no rhyme or reason to how you do it. Dab it with a little egg wash and it comes out of the oven looking like something from a bakery.

 

 

Devil Macarons

February 1st, 2012 :: 2 comments :: permalink

I consider the macaron to be the supermodel of cookies. The first time I had one was at Miette Pâtisserie, in San Francisco. We were staying right across the street and happened to discover Miette while walking through SF’s Ferry Building. I ended up eating an obscene amount of macarons on that trip. Although delightful to eat, these little devil cookies took a lot of effort to prepare at home. At one point we were ready to throw in the towel, thinking the cookies were going to be horribly disfigured. Luckily, it all seemed to work itself out through the baking process.

Making macarons seemed like a two person job. Dustin made the frosting while I worked on the cookies. This was our first time making frosting with raw eggs, so we really didn’t want to mess that up. Watching the eggs and sugar thicken in our mixer was amazing.  They changed from an odd light brown translucent color to a fluffy white bowl of delightfulness.

Everything is so precise with baking. I used the imprints of a miniature cup dipped in flour for a size reference when squeezing the batter out of a pastry bag.

We learned a lot about what not to do while making macarons, but even after our two mini-meltdowns, and almost starting over, they ultimately looked pretty good. The texture seems more fluffy than store bought macarons, and they just melt in your mouth. Next time we’ll be a little more generous with our all-natural food coloring in the hopes that we can get the cake and frosting colors to match. Even though the recipe isn’t easy, I think most people would have a good chance of coming out with a delicious product that doesn’t look half bad.

Ingredients

  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Macaroons
  • 1-3/4 cup confectioner
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • all-purpose flour, for dipping
  • 1-1/2 cups (4 ounces) sliced almonds, finely ground, or almond flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream (increase vanilla to 2-1/2 teaspoons)

 

Preparation

French Almond Macaroons
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Whisk in ground almonds; set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats (such as Silpats), and mark circles using a 1-1/2-inch cookie cutter dipped in flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy; add salt. Gradually add granulated sugar 1 teaspoon at a time, until the whites reach medium-soft peaks. Transfer to a large bowl.

Sprinkle half of the sugar-almond mixture over the egg-white mixture. Using a large rubber spatula fold until just incorporated. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and remaining sugar-almond mixture, folding until just incorporated. Firmly tap the bottom of the bowl on a counter or work surface to eliminate any air pockets.

Transfer mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (such as an Ateco #806). Pipe mixture into marked circles on prepared baking sheet.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until macaroons feel slightly firm to the touch and can be gently lifted off the parchment (the bottoms will be dry), 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer parchment and macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a small offset spatula, carefully remove macaroons from parchment. Spread 2 teaspoons buttercream on the flat sides of the half of macaroons; sandwich with the other halves, keeping flat sides down. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes, before serving. Filled cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

 

Strawberry Macaroons Variation
Follow instructions for French Almond Macaroons, adding 4 drops of red food coloring to the egg whites just before you add the sugar-almond mixture (batter will be pink). For the filling, do not increase vanilla, and fold 1/3 cup strained strawberry preserves (3-1/2 ounces) into Swiss Meringue Buttercream after butter has been incorporated. Proceed with the recipe.

Chocolate Macaroons Variation
Follow instructions for French Almond Macaroons, sifting 2 tablespoons Dutch-process coca powder with the confectioners’ sugar. For the filling, place 5 ounces finely chopped semisweet chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup heavy cream until it just starts to simmer; pour over chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute; stir until melted. Let ganache stand at room temperature until thick enough to spread. Proceed with the recipe.

 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 160ºF).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If the frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.

The Recipe is all Martha

 

Vanilla Custard

December 19th, 2011 :: 0 comments :: permalink

Our original idea was to make custard to fill puff pastries, but while making it we realized it was enough of a dessert on its own and maybe too much in a pastry. You can top the custard with blueberries, lemon zest, powdered sugar, raspberries and I’m sure much more.

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Fat cookies

December 2nd, 2011 :: 6 comments :: permalink

Like most people, I grew up eating store bought cookies. This is the first real cookie recipe I’ve ever made and I’m convinced it has to be the best one anywhere. The cookies come out super fat and gooey. I gave half of them away to my co-workers to prevent myself from eating the whole batch. Even taking pictures of them was a hard task, because they kept disappearing. I will never buy a store bought chocolate chip cookie again. Why waste the calories?

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