Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chocolate cake doughnuts

Charlie Brown: Let's go to the doughnut shop.
Snoopy: What a coincidence! I knew I heard a doughnut calling me.
Charlie Brown: I hope the shop isn't closed.
Snoopy: Doughnuts never call from behind locked doors.

And so reads a Peanuts comic that I have had in a frame on my desk for three years.  (Told you I loved doughnuts.)  Welcome to chapter two of the doughnut saga!  Last week I started this adventure with a traditional glazed yeast doughnut, and boy was I happy with the results.  The doughnuts were light and airy, so flavorful, and practically melted in my mouth when they were fresh.  They were still good the next day, but a little drier -- fortunately that was fixed with a trip to the microwave for ten seconds.  If I had my way and had not made a promise on the interwebs to deliver five different doughnut recipes, I would've made a second batch of the yeast doughnuts rather than a new kind.  Luckily, I like you.  I think you deserve a variety of doughnut recipes and almost-witty commentary on them.  So, keep reading.

This week's feature is the chocolate cake doughnut.  I'll be the first to say that I personally prefer yeast doughnuts to cake doughnuts, but I wanted to try the latter out for myself.  The only difference in the recipe or cooking process is that cake doughnuts use baking powder as the leavening agent, while the yeast doughnuts use [ahem] yeast.  The chocolate cake doughnuts do puff up once in the hot frying oil, but keep in mind that they are a denser breed of doughnut.  That being said, the density definitely makes these a much better day-after doughnut than their yeast counterparts.  I still prefer the yeast doughnuts to cake doughnuts after this run, but for those of you out there that like cake doughnuts, these are good cake doughnuts!

A few other notes before you start.  There were many versions of chocolate cake doughnuts so this was a bit of a compilation effort on my part, trying to take the best of each and omit the worst.  More than a few recipes called for some sort of a chocolate glaze or icing to finish off the doughnuts.  I tested out a glaze on one doughnut, but I'll be honest -- it wasn't spectacular, and I really believe it detracted from the taste of the actual doughnut.  I settled on dusting the doughnuts with basic granulated sugar.  Finally, I halved this recipe since the gym is closed this week due to spring break, my OnDemand isn't working (so no exercise videos), and my testers for this one were me, myself and I.

Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
-makes 18

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for frying
Granulated sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and melted butter.  Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients and stir until none of the cocoa/flour mixture is visible.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Scrape dough onto a floured (this isn't the time to skimp or "dust lightly") surface. With floured hands, pat dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. With a 3-inch doughnut cutter, cut out doughnuts and center hole (I couldn't find my tiny cutter so I used a water bottle cap).  Pat together scraps of dough and cut again.  Place doughnuts on a well-floured baking sheet.

Fill a high-sided pot with about two inches of vegetable oil.  Use a smaller pot to use less oil, but know that you'll be cooking smaller batches of doughnuts.  Heat the oil to 375F, as indicated by a candy thermometer.  Place one doughnut at a time onto a wide spatula and gently slide into the oil.  Be careful not to overcrowd the oil.  Cook, flipping once, about 1 and a half minutes on each side or until puffy.  With spatula, transfer doughnut to a paper towel-lined plate or a cooling rack over a baking sheet.  Repeat to cook the rest of the doughnuts.

When cool enough to handle (about 15 minutes), dip both sides of the doughnut in granulated sugar and set aside.  Can be stored in a sealed container for up to two days.  These are perfect with a glass of milk.

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