Brioche Doughnuts with Tahini Chocolate Pastry Cream and Halva

Brioche doughnuts filled with chocolate tahini pastry cream and topped with Halva
Brioche doughnuts filled with chocolate tahini pastry cream and topped with Halva
Brioche doughnuts filled with chocolate tahini pastry cream and topped with Halva
Brioche doughnuts filled with chocolate tahini pastry cream and topped with Halva
Brioche doughnuts filled with chocolate tahini pastry cream and topped with Halva
Brioche doughnuts filled with chocolate tahini pastry cream and topped with Halva

Hoooooly crap. The last few days / weeks / months have been ridic. I feel like I can only every now and then manage to get my head above water to take a big breath. We have been working on some SUPER exciting things at the studio which I can't wait to share with you very soon! I spent the last few days running around town with the team from Bake from scratch and the lovely Edd aka The boy who bakes. They were on a promo tour for the latest issue of the magazine, which is all about British cooking! Seeing as they didn't have a kitchen, I did all the food for the shoots - lots of scones, two 'chocolate biscuit cakes' which were very stressful but thankfully turned out pretty on the inside, and an amazingly delicious chocolate passionfruit bundt cake. I always have the best, best time when they are in town. 

I made these wee guys a week or so ago. I had breakfast with my lovely friend Rachel of Seed and Mill, and she sent me home with some of their amazing products - the best tahini ever, and a wee package of Halva! If you haven't had halva before, you should try some ASAP - it's made by adding tahini to a sugar syrup and then mixing until it crystalizes. Different flavours are then added. If you are ever in NYC make sure you stop by Seed and Mill at Chelsea Market - their soft serve is one of my fave things ever. 

I have been meaning to incorporate tahini into a dessert / baked good ever since these cookies, and so here you go! I took my fave brioche recipe, and turned it into doughnuts, then loaded them up with a pastry cream that I gussied up with some dark chocolate and tahini. Tahini and chocolate are great friends - the chocolate really plays on the nuttiness of the tahini, and stirred into a pastry cream is always going to be a good time. I rolled the freshly fried doughnuts in a cocoa sugar mix which tastes like that shitty chocolate icing your mum made as a kid, before filling them with the pastry cream and topping with a chunk of halva. If you're going to do decadent, you might as well do it properly. 

A few wee tips:

  • If you can, make the pastry cream the night before or a few hours before you start, so that it has time to cool in the fridge. If not, and you're in a time pinch, no worries - just line a shallow baking sheet (I usually use a quarter sheet) with plastic wrap, spread the cream in, then put another piece of plastic wrap on top, and leave it to cool in the fridge, giving it 5 minute blasts in the freezer occasionally if needed. More surface area = quicker cooling time!

  • If you can't find Halva, you can definitely leave it out! I just used it as a wee topping.

  • The first rise for these can be done overnight in the fridge - they may just need a little more time on their second rise once you have shaped them.



Brioche Doughnuts with Tahini Chocolate Pastry Cream and Halva

- Makes about 12 -

Pastry Cream adapted from The Cook and Baker

Tahini Chocolate Pastry Cream
650g Whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste, or the scrapings of one vanilla bean
1/4 tsp salt
70g corn starch
110g granulated sugar
2 eggs plus one yolk
60g unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into cubes
80g dark chocolate, finely chopped
150g tahini

Brioche Doughnuts
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup (240ml) whole milk, lukewarm
4 Tbsp sugar
3 3/4 cups (565g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g Sugar plus 1 Tbsp cocoa, for rolling
Neutral oil, for frying

About 150g halva, for finishing (optional)






In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean paste and salt. Heat over medium low until bubbles begin to form around the outside of the milk, and it is just shy of a simmer. 

While the milk is heating, whisk together the corn starch and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the eggs and yolk, and whisk well until pale. 

Once the milk has heated, remove from the heat and pour half into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Mix until well combined. Transfer back into the milk saucepan, and place over a low to medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream is very thick, approximately 8-10 minutes. 

Set up a sieve over a clean bowl. Once the pastry cream is thick, pass through the sieve into the bowl. Stir in the butter and chocolate, and mix until well incorporated. Add the tahini, and mix to combine. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream, and refrigerate until completely chilled. If you need to speed this process up, line a sheet pan or shallow tray with plastic wrap and spread the pastry cream over it to speed up the chilling process.



In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 2 Tbsp of the sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth.

Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Weigh, and divide into 12 equal weight portions. Roll each portion into a tight ball. Place the rolled doughnuts on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Leave the doughnuts to proof for a further 20 minutes. When you poke them lightly with your finger, it should leave a small indentation that springs back.

While the doughnuts are proofing, heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron works great). Heat the oil to 165˚c / 330˚f. Combine the sugar and cocoa powder, and place in a shallow bowl for tossing the doughnuts.

Once the oil has come to temperature, test it with a few scraps of dough. Gently lower the doughnuts, two at a time, into the hot oil. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 30 seconds before tossing in the sugar. Repeat the process with the rest of the doughnuts. Once the doughnuts are cool, poke a hole in them using a chopstick, and widen the hole using your finger.


Transfer the pastry cream to a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip. Fill each doughnut with pastry cream - you will feel it become heavier in your hand. Pipe a little blob on top of each doughnut, and top with a chunk of halva. 

Best, served on the day that they are made.

Brioche doughnuts filled with chocolate tahini pastry cream and topped with Halva