Oye. It’s been a rough few days. My heart hurts for New Zealand - I am heartbroken that such a thing happened in my country, which has always seemed like such a safe haven. It’s reminded me just how important unity and acceptance is, and that we must always stand in each other’s corner. Everyone is welcome here.
Something else I was reminded about though, seeing the country rally behind a community, was how instrumental food is in bringing people together. Whenever things get a bit rough or a bit stressful, either for us or for someone I love, I always find myself turning back to food. It provides a bridge - a common ground everyone can relate to, and is a way of sharing. It can speak the words that may be too difficult to say. It really is my way of expressing love, and I know that rings true for a lot of people. There are few better ways to show you’re there for someone than through providing food.
This recipe is particularly relevant today, because Doughnuts are something that I often make to bring to others if I know they are having a hard time or are in need of some support. I took my all time favourite brioche recipe, which seems to sneak its way into so many things I make, spiked it with some vanilla bean, and shaped it into balls, which I then fried up into fluffy, crunchy, sugary brioche doughnuts. You really can’t get any better than a fresh doughnut.
I then filled them with a new to me filling - a salted caramel milk chocolate ganache. The process behind this is super clever - you make a caramel, and then pour it over chocolate and emulsify it in, the same way you would with the ganache. The result is silky and fudgy, with a creaminess from the milk chocolate and a sweetness from the caramel. It makes the perfect doughnut filling - I will definitely be using it in a bunch more things to come.
In the past I have always used a vegetable oil or canola oil to fry with, but recently I have started using Filippo Berio’s Extra Light Olive Oil. Not only is it a more healthy option, but it is great quality and has a high smoke point (410°f - 446°f), which makes it perfect for frying. It is super light in taste, so there is no need to worry about the flavour of the oil transferring to your baked goods. It is definitely my go to from now on - I really recommend giving frying in olive oil a try and see how it goes!
A few wee tips:
The Ganache (which is possibly my new favourite thing) needs to cool overnight in order to firm up. It can be made ahead if desired. If you have any leftover, it makes incredible salted caramel hot chocolates when you mix it with warm milk.
You ideally need a stick blender / emulsion blender for the ganache. It helps to emulsify the caramel, giving you a super silky finish. A stick blender is a great investment - I use mine loads for making curds and creams, and also a whole bunch for making salad dressing (It makes super quick aioli!).
I made the brioche dough the night before, and did the first rise overnight in the fridge, which makes the process feel a little less involved.
Make sure that you give the doughnuts adequate time to cool before filling, otherwise the ganache will melt.
It seems like a lot of oil used, but I wait for the oil to cool once I am finished frying, then just return to the bottle and use again another time. You can use it a bunch of times before you need to dispose of it! You need it to be deep enough that the doughnuts don’t touch the bottom.
A thermometer is super important when you are deep frying - too hot and the doughnuts won’t cook inside, and too cold and they will soak up oil and be too greasy. Make sure to test the oil between batches to make sure that it hasn’t changed too much. Frying in cast iron helps this a lot.
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts
- Makes about 12 -
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache
270g milk chocolate, chopped
540g heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3/4 tsp salt
30g light corn syrup or glucose
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
250g (1 cup) whole milk, lukewarm
4 Tbsp (50g) sugar
565g (3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Filippo Berio Extra Light Olive Oil
150g sugar, for rolling doughnuts
- PROCESS -
SALTED CARAMEL MILK CHOCOLATE GANACHE
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl.
In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, place the cream, vanilla bean paste and salt, and place over low heat. You just want to warm it - not let it boil.
In a medium heavy bottomed pan, combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup. Place over medium heat. Cook, stirring or swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is a deep amber colour. Remove from the heat and adda third of the warmed cream mixture. Be careful as it will steam and sputter. Whisk well to combine. Add the second third, combine, then add the remaining cream, and whisk until well incorporated.
Pour a third of the the caramel cream mixture over the chopped chocolate, then cover the bowl with a lid or plate and leave to stand for 2 minutes. Mix with a stick blender to emulsify the mixture. Add the remaining caramel mixture in two additions, mixing well with the stick blender to ensure even incorporation.
Cool the mixture to 95°f / 35°c (you can either leave it at room temperature, stirring occasionally, which will take some time, or you can pop it into the fridge, stirring and checking the temperature often), then add in the butter and mix with the stick blender to emulsify. Transfer to an airtight container and leave to set overnight in the fridge.
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. Alternatively the first rise can be done overnight in the fridge.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Weigh the dough, and divide into 12 equal weight portions. Roll each portion into a tight ball. Place the rolled doughnuts on a baking tray sheet with parchment paper, leaving adequate space between (you may need two baking sheets).
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 Filippo Berio Extra Light Olive Oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron works great). Heat the oil to 350°f / 180°c. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the sugar in a shallow bowl.
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 , flipping every 30 seconds, for 3-4 minutes, 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 totally cool, poke a hole in them using a chopstick, and widen the hole using your finger.
Transfer the chocolate ganache to a piping bag filled with a round piping tip. Fill each doughnut with the ganache - you will feel it become heavy in your hand, and will begin to come out the top a little. Pipe a small blob of ganache on the doughnut where the filling pokes out.
Doughnuts are best served on the day that they are made.
Thank you so much to Filippo Berio for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.