Saturday, December 20, 2014

Time to Make the Doughnuts

Amid my Christmas prep frenzy, I found the time, focus and where-with-all to rock out some festive baked buttermilk mini doughnuts topped with chocolate glaze and holiday sprinkles. I did this for 4-year-olds.

Yeah. There's an element of crazy in my actions, but hopefully the kiddos dug the treat while hopped up on juice, candy canes and a visit from the Big Man from the North Pole himself during my son's pre-school holiday festivities.

I purchased the Wilton mini doughnut pans within the past year. A complete frivolous purchase, yes. But they are getting more use than my fondue pot, blowtorch or crepe pan. (Note to self: Must collect less kitchen gadgetry.)

This was my second go-around at making baked doughnuts, and I thought this time was a better turnout than when I did it in the spring. I used the doughnut recipe from a really fab Web site called www.justataste.com. But the glaze on that site used Nutella, which would kill me and violate all sorts of nut-free-zone policies at my son's school, so I went with the basic chocolate glaze on  www.wilton.com.

My first attempt at the doughnuts last spring involved nutmeg. Now, I got nothing against nutmeg, but I think that was the ingredient that didn't do it for me. This doughnut recipe is sans nutmeg. The buttermilk adds a really nice tang to the doughnuts. But, the ginormous bottle is taking up prime real estate in my refrigerator mocking me every time I open the door because it knows that I do not have any immediate plans to use the 3 1/2 cups that remain in the bottle. The Jersey Girl was SO going to rock out buttermilk cheddar biscuits tonight to go with our din dins, but alas, I did not. My rationale is that the Feast of the Seven Fishes AND Christmas brunch are mere days away, and really do we need to feel like total fat-asses this soon in the game?

As is usually the case with doughnuts - particularly the fried ones - these baked doughnuts taste best on the day they are made. I served mine a good 24 hours after making them because girlfriend was not waking up at 5 a.m. to make doughnuts for a bunch of 4-year-olds. I'm not a complete lunatic. They still totally rocked, but on the first night they had that je ne sais quoi that certain food has when served at just the perfect time: Biscuits straight out the oven, bacon right out of the pan, a frittata at an easy breezy warm room temp, gazpacho chilled to perfection coming at you directly from the coolness of a refrigerator. You catch me?

That said you could make these a day ahead and still leave a room full of judgmental judgies with your reputation intact. But I would advise you baking fiends to perhaps bring these to a holiday brunch or party just an hour or so after cooling. They are fab!



Baked Mini Buttermilk Doughnuts
From www.justataste.com
Makes 24

For the doughnuts:
Vegetable cooking spray
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
To make the doughnuts:
Preheat the oven to 425°F and spray the mini-doughnut pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, eggs and melted butter just until combined.

Fill each pan cavity approximately 1/3 full (about 1/2 Tablespoon per cavity). Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles and level out the batter.

Bake the doughnuts for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the tops of the doughnuts spring back when touched. Let the doughnuts cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer them to a cooling wrack to cool completely while you make the chocolate glaze.
Chocolate Glaze
  • From www.wilton.com
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot water
In medium bowl, melt chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup on 50% power for 1 minute, stirring frequently until completely melted. Stir in 1 teaspoon of hot water, stirring until the glaze is thick and smooth. Add another teaspoon if glaze is too thick. Use immediately to glaze doughnuts.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Confessions of a Pizzelle Guru

Forget gift shopping, house decorating, feeble attempts at wrapping boxes while stalking the front door on an hourly basis hoping that the UPS man or FedEx man or some man has arrived with all of the freaking items I ordered three weeks ago. And don't even get me started on that crazy-ass Elf on the Shelf/Big Brother who I forget to move EVERY NIGHT. And Christmas cards. I mean really, America. Are we just effing insane?!?

Truth: Baking and cooking are the only holiday chores that do not make my blood pressure rise. So it is with great joy that I have entered the week of creating cookie deliciousness.

Elvis on the stereo, leopard ho-ho-ho hat slightly askew, wine on the side and the kid tucked snug in his bed, visions of trains and Legos dancing in his head. Now, this. This the Jersey Girl can deal with.

So here goes with my pizzelles. If you don't know what a pizzelle is, you've obviously never rocked out Christmas in Jersey. It's a traditional Italian waffle cookie, or as my big boy Evan calls them, snowflake cookies.



According to legend, I mean my very opinionated family, the best pizzelles are thin as paper and are so delicate and crispy that you must handle them with the utmost level of care.

The original recipe can be found on a vanilla-stained, time-worn faded light blue index card that was always stowed away in my Mom's index-card recipe box on the top shelf of her corner kitchen cabinet. The one with the lazy-Susan, above the coffee pot.

As is the case in many of the gems you will find in the box, now located in Florida, the "recipe" is merely a list of ingredients in no particularly important order. But as we know, nothing can be left to chance when baking. It's all about instinct. Precision. A feeling.

Of course, I will share with you my process. But, I must warn you dear readers, your pizzelles won't ever match mine. Not because of my fine baking prowess or stellar kitchen skills. No, sir. You see, when my parents left our childhood home for sunnier skies down south, my Mom would sneak into my house many of her "treasures." Pink Santa Claus circa 1985, harvest gold Tupperware circa 1972 and a pizzelle iron circa older than dirt. It is magical. Truly. I am completely convinced that the only reason my pizzelles are anything to write home about is because they are made on the gadget that I have treasured for my entire life.





Pizzelles
6 extra large eggs at room temperature
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 lb. margarine melted and cooled (2 sticks)
4 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract or anise

Preheat pizzelle iron.

In a large bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.

In a large mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and margarine until smooth. One at a time, add eggs and continue beating on medium-low speed. Add vanilla or anise (I use vanilla). Add flour mixture a cup at a time while mixer is beating slowly. Stop occasionally to scrape sides. Continue until flour is all completely added.

When ready to bake, place one teaspoon on each side of pizzelle iron. Press down iron for about 60 seconds. Remove from iron with the help of a fork. Lie flat on paper towels to cool. Once cool, the pizzelles can be piled up to make space for more.