*In anticipation of Chanukah, (which starts on December 16th and lasts ’till the 24th!) I’ll be posting festive and holiday-worthy recipes all month long, starting with this recipe for doughnuts.
Doughnuts! Is everyone else as obsessed with doughnuts as I am? And no, I’m not talking cake donuts (which are a doughnut’s seemingly virtuous yet incomparable counterpart). I mean a good, fluffy, yeasted doughnut, fried to perfection in hot oil and filled with a luscious pastry cream, jelly, or in this case, salted caramel. Yep, yeast doughnuts win hands down in my book! And while they’re way too dangerous to consume on a regular basis, that’s what we have Chanukah for: in commemorating the miracle that occurred with the oil, we fry doughnuts and latkes, and for 8 days straight, eat them with careless abandon.
Ok, maybe not careless. That abandon needs to be well worth it, and trust me, these doughnuts are. The dough is the lightest, most flavorful I’ve ever tried, thanks to water (not milk!) which turns to steam in the hot oil and causes the doughnuts to fry up into soft little pillows. The salted caramel filling is deliciously smoky, with a contrast from the salt that perfectly offsets the sweetness, and because that wasn’t indulgent enough, I drizzled the doughnuts with dark chocolate.
Because it’s Chanukah. Because they’re doughnuts. Because sometimes, we go all out!
Yield: 11 or 12 doughnuts
Why I love this recipe: using water, not milk, in the dough results in the airiest, fluffiest doughnuts ever, with a little bit of chewiness. The doughnuts expand tremendously as they fry, and since the buttery dough is not too sweet, the salted caramel turns up the notch a bit.
For the doughnut dough:
- 1 and ⅔ cups plain flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- ¼ cup + 2 tsps warm water
- 5 tablespoons butter, softened
- canola oil for frying
For the salted caramel sauce + topping:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- two pinches flaked sea salt
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- confectioner’s sugar
- melted dark chocolate
- For the dough: place all the ingredients for the doughnuts, besides the butter, into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix until well combined and smooth
- With the mixer still running, add the butter piece by piece, until it’s all worked in and thoroughly incorporated. There should be no visible pieces. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic, and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, around 1 to 2 hours
- While the dough is rising, make the caramel: melt the sugar over medium to high heat, whisking to ensure that it heats evenly. Cook the liquefied sugar to a copper color. Add the sea salt and butter and stir until the butter melts.
- Lower the heat and slowly drizzle in the heavy cream, whisking the whole time. Set aside until needed.
- When the dough has risen, punch it down, and scrape it out onto a well-floured surface (it will be very soft and sticky dough). Pat the dough into a rectangle, about ½ inch thick, and cut out doughnuts using a round doughnut cutter. Place the doughnuts on a lined and floured baking sheet, cover with plastic again, and set aside to rise for another 45 minutes.
- When the second rise is up, place about 2 inches of oil into a high-sided pan, heat the oil over a low flame, until it reaches 350° Fahrenheit.
- Fry the donuts 2-3 at a time for about 1 minute each side or until they are golden brown and cooked through.
- Drain the donuts on paper towels. When then are completely cool, scrape the salted caramel into a piping bag fitted with a ⅛ inch tip. Poke the tip into the side of each doughnut and squeeze until the doughnuts are sufficiently filled.
- Once all the doughnuts are filled, top with confectioner’s sugar and a drizzle of melted chocolate.