Homemade Donuts with Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce

Good Saturday Morning!

I was conversing with my Mom a couple of days ago and she was raving about her new kitchen wonder…a Fry Daddy.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, your world (and your waistline) is about to change forever as mine quickly did.  She was tantalizing me with all of the great things she’d successfully fried in it…fish, shrimp, chicken…the list went on and on.  While the above foods no doubt are divine dunked in a hot bath of oil, all I heard was donuts, donuts, donuts.  Donuts would be amazing after a nice swim in the Fry Daddy.  The seed had been planted at that moment and it’s grown into a full on obsession that I can’t shake…I must make donuts!

These delightful bites of fried dough, while quite indulgent, are worth both the effort and the calories.  Don’t get me wrong…it’s certainly much easier to stop by the donut shop and pick up a dozen, but there’s something added to the enjoyment when you know they’ve been made from scratch.

I know I know…donuts are not the healthiest of foods.  Delicious morsels of dough fried to perfection…shoveling them in because you can’t just eat one.  But don’t we all deserve a little guilty pleasure once in a while?  After all, life should be filled with small indulgences every now and then to get you through the day.  This is my philosophy when it comes to just about any sweet treat…dessert just makes people happy and trust me, these donuts will bring on some smiles.

Homemade Donuts          {Print Recipe}

Yield: 2 dozen

½ cup warm water

2 pkgs active dry yeast (not fast-rising)

1 ¼ cups plus ½ tsp granulated sugar

¾ cup whole milk

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for baking sheet

1 ½ cups cake flour

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

4 large eggs

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, well softened

4-6 cups Canola oil, for frying

Spiced Sugar Blend

6 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp allspice

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cardamom

Place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it.  Make sure not to get the water too hot or the yeast won’t activate.  Add ½ tsp granulated sugar and stir to dissolve the yeast.  Set the bowl aside and allow the yeast to proof until foamy, about 4 minutes.  Place the milk in a small saucepan or a microwaveable container and heat until warm to the touch (about 20-30 seconds).

Place the all-purpose flour, cake flour, remaining 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl of an electric mixer and use the paddle attachment to combine them thoroughly.  Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the yeast mixture, warm milk and eggs.  Beat on medium until a smooth dough forms.  Beat in the butter, then add enough additional flour on low speed to make a smooth, soft and elastic dough.  Switch to medium speed and mix for 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn the dough into a bowl sprayed with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap.  Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free spot (I used my oven with no heat).  Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Gently deflate the dough by pulling it from the sides of the bowl and turn it onto a floured surface.  Pat the dough into about a ½ thickness and cut circles with a plain-edged round cutter.  Place tem on a baking sheet dusted with flour and cover them with plastic wrap.  Allow them to proof while you heat the oil.

Heat about 4 to 6 cups of canola oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches about 350 degrees F.  Fry the donuts in batches in the hot oil keeping note of the oil’s temperature.  If you let the oil get too hot, the donuts will brown quickly on the outside, but not cook all the way on the inside.  Gently turn them until they are golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side (depending on the size).

Drain the donuts on a plate covered in paper towel and let cool slightly before rolling them in the Spiced Sugar mixture.  These donuts are ABSOLUTELY best when served warm, but they can be stored in an airtight container and reheated in the oven right before serving.

Florentine Doughnuts Recipe from Dolce Italiano, Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen, by Gina DePalma

Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce

Yield: 1 cup

6 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 Tbsp Nutella

Heat the heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan until just simmering.  Add the chocolate chips and the Nutella and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well incorporated.  Begin dunking.



Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


…Ok…Halloween is not one of my favored holidays.  Call me a “scaredy- cat” if you will but I’ve always felt slightly uneasy about this ghost honored tradition.  The ever so slight viewing of a horror film preview (yes, I said preview) can disturb me for weeks and FORGET about haunted houses…the casual thought of them sends chills down my spine and frightens me to the core.  Now just because I don’t adore ghosts and goblins, does not mean that I don’t consume my share (or more) of candy and sweets during this sugar crazed celebration.  It holds true as the one occasion where I can somehow justify mass consumption of candy, of any kind, merely because of its presence in the large bowl nearby.

All fear aside, Fall is absolutely my favorite season of all and I would never pass up the opportunity to bake something special for this festive time of year.  For instance, I happen to have quite a lot of adoration for pumpkins, particularly when combined with a little sugar and spice.  As the air outdoors becomes crisp and cool and the landscape begins its transformation into winter, I can’t help but imagine snuggling up next to a warm cozy fire while enjoying some spiced pumpkin cupcakes.  The spice in these cupcakes seems to embody everything that I love about this breathtaking season.  While the cupcakes are incredible on their own, I thought that a garnish could add a little something extra to the presentation…perhaps some Pumpkin Seed Brittle…oh my.  What was intended as a simple embellishment, battled to steal the spotlight!  This brittle is amazingly good with a wonderful caramelized-buttery-cinnamon flavor and if you’re a fan of brittle, you won’t be able to resist it…trust me.

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting                                                                                                                                               {Print Recipe}

Yield: 24-27 standard sized cupcakes

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder (-1/8 tsp for high altitude)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground allspice

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp salt

1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin (15 oz. can, not pie filling)

¾ cup well-shaken buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, until well incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and pumpkin alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, and mix until the batter is just combined.

Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners about ½ full and bake about 18-20 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool the cupcakes on a rack completely prior to frosting.

Recipe adapted from The Best of Gourmet


Cream Cheese Frosting:

Yield: Frosts 24-30 cupcakes

2-8 oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

2 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

Beat the cream cheese and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy.  Decrease the speed to low and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the vanilla and the heavy whipping cream and mix until smooth.

Pumpkin Seed Brittle:

Yield: 1 ¾ lbs or (28) 1 oz. servings

¼  cup butter, cut into chunks

1 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp vanilla

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

2 ½ cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1 ½ cups toasted hulled pumpkin seeds

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly butter and set aside.  Place pumpkin seeds in a large sauté pan and heat over medium-low heat to toast, about 5-8 minutes.  Make sure to shake or stir the seeds occasionally to ensure even toasting.  Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, stir the baking soda in the vanilla to dissolve and also set aside.  In another bowl, mix together the cinnamon and salt.  This will help the cinnamon to distribute evenly when stirred into the sugar mixture.  Have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go as once the sugar reaches it’s temperature, things move quickly!

In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to stir together the sugar, ½ cup water, corn syrup and the butter (1/4 cup).  Heat the mixture until the butter is completely melted and the sugar is dissolved.  Increase the heat to medium and boil the sugar mixture, stirring occasionally, until it turns a deep amber and registers 335 to 340 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  This step takes anywhere from 5-12 minutes.  Keep a close eye on it to ensure that it doesn’t burn.

Remove the sugar mixture from the heat and carefully stir in the vanilla and cinnamon mixtures (they will bubble up).  Immediately stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds and pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a spatula or wooden spoon to spread evenly.  Let the brittle cool at room temperature for about 30-40 minutes.

Gently break the brittle into chunks and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Trust me though; it won’t last that long.

Recipe from Sunset Magazine