I started out with the full intention of making Cake Truffles. I visited The Momofuko Milk Bar @ midtown, nyc a year or so ago. It was dark and sleek and compact and professional. In contrast the gorgeous sweets they sold were homey and warm and slightly nostalgic of afternoon baking projects in your kitchen, but taken to the highest level. I remember the Garbage cookie, the lemony Corn cookie, the Candy Bar pie, but the memory of their cake truffle remains most steady. Layer Cake crumbs mixed with frosting to a compacted bite of decadent layer cake flavor; my definition of sweets heaven. …And then the March issue of Saveur Magazine arrived, offering it’s gorgeous donuts on the cover. And my head was turned.
Purim Goodie Bags are always a great excuse and opportunity to flex the baking muscle, give it a bit of a work out and then mix in a little experimentation for fun. Past Purim Mishloach Manots have featured scones, muffins, marshmallows, tube cakes, cookies, some more successful than others. I usually learn a lesson along the way (big one: “chocolate____” is pretty much always appreciated). I decided it was time for Donut 101. Saveur’s Donut Article, convinced me it was a worthy sweets goal. It went on to show that many cultures have a version of fried dough donuts (Hanukkah jelly filled sufganiyot). And that American cuisine has really embraced it, and layered it with flavor and varieties. Who doesn’t love a delicious donut with their morning coffee? For most sensible adults only a special occasion would warrant the calories and fat of a crispy-soft donut, but Purim was coming up. Purim is all about celebration and silly, delicious, noisy fun. Hamantaschen are the sweets that get Purim play time, but here’s my true-and-guilty-confession… don’t love hamantaschen (although I did write a piece on savory hamantachen www.kveller.com).
A sketch of a plan began to formulate. I figured on an Apple Spice cake donut based on Saveur’s Blueberry Donut (recipe to follow). And then decided on the Dulce de Leche glaze from the icing buffet that was arrayed on the next page. I took their advice on the canola oil, and found my candy thermometer, I brazenly took a set of chopsticks from the local Chinese restaurant. I set out my ingredients and read the recipe through before setting off.
Getting the oil to 370F, and then keeping it there was my biggest challenge. I was often pouring in additional oil to cool the temperature down, so that the donuts wouldn’t get singed on the outside while being doughy and unappealing on the inside. I’ve resisted Hub’s regular pleas for a deep-fryer, but I have to admit it may be the more healthful and effective option. Also a timer that counts seconds is pretty much essential. Like they warned in the piece, the dough was pretty sticky, and spraying my hands with baking spray really did help. It’s messy work, and can be dangerous if you’re less than zen. I’m sporting a second degree burn on my shin because I was distracted and lazy.
The Dulce de Leche glaze was very gooey and sweet and for a Caramellow, quite awesome. I substituted Apple Pie Spice for the cinnamon, which I hoped would bring the donut full circle in flavor. Two hours was the suggested time for the milks to boil down to a rich blanket of soft caramel, I only had an hour, and was happy with the consistency and flavor. I didn’t take the suggestion of straining out the little pudding-like lumps (strainer in dishwasher), and I’m sorry for my haste- it didn’t affect flavor, but distracted from the appearance (almost as important). It was tasty though.
Remembering that chocolate_____ is always appreciated, I tried out the Devil’s Food donuts. And they were beauties, especially with their deep dark sheen of mocha glaze. Chocolate always upstages everything else, with it’s dark and glossy beauty, but the Apple Spice Dulce de Leche, deserve some love. The flavors were really great: a spiced apple subtly sweet interior dunked and cooled in a thick glaze of warm and slightly spiced sweetness.
Sweets Lesson Learned: It’s quite important to concentrate and be prepared when playing with hot oil. And, just as important: donuts are best enjoyed on the day they’re made. Because there were 20 Purim Goodie Bags to prepare, I made them a couple days ahead of their due date. They were still flavorful and enjoyable, but didn’t yield as nicely, they were much chewier on the second day. I was pleased with the results of my GoNuts for Donuts experiment. And better for the lessons learned (Vitamin E is great for burns, so is, curiously, mustard and egg whites…?).
* Filed under Desserts & Other Fun Stuff, Snacks, Recipe Archive