“I’m not a chef, I’m Italian”- David Rocco

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Salted Caramel Doughnuts with Roasted Pecans

Ciao tutti!! I know, I know. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted and I’ve missed you all. Life has been nuts. Between working and building up my brand, Magic &Pasta Events and trying to juggle a social life, I have been getting ready for the biggest decision of my life. You may remember that back in February I announced that I brought a house in Italy, in the beautiful town of Guardia Sanframondi. I am going to be leaving for Guardia at the end of the month and will be there until the middle of September, getting my house ready, starting renovations and I’ll be in the process of working on a HUGE project (more details in the next few months.) I am also planning on completely redoing La Cucina Della Prima Donna and making it more accessible and easier to search for recipes and including some travel tips, photos, etc. In the meantime, I would like to share with you my newest recipe…

Classic Yeast Doughnuts with Salted Caramel and Roasted Pecans

Yeast Doughnuts
2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 packet of instant yeast
4 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup whole milk, warmed to 105 F- 115 F
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. pure maple extract
3 egg yolks
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
Vegetable oil, for frying (I prefer peanut oil)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the warm milk, vanilla, maple and egg yolks. Mix till smooth. Add the whole wheat pastry flour and the butter and mix until incorporated. You can prepare this recipe with all bread flour, I just always prefer to bake with a  little whole wheat flour because I find it adds a light nuttiness to ever recipe and it makes your treats a little healthier. Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough is soft and smooth (it will be slightly sticky).
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a draft free place to rise for 1 hour. You can also refrigerate for up to 12 hours and have perfect dough just in time for breakfast. Lightly flour 2 baking sheets. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut with a floured doughnut cutter or biscuit cutter. Use the extra dough for doughnut holes, don't throw those babies out! Place the doughnuts and doughnut holes at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheets and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise a second time until they are puffy and almost double in size, this should take 15-30 minutes. The doughnuts and ready when the dough springs back slowly after being touched with a fingertip (if it springs back too quickly, it needs more time, if it collapses, it has over proofed and you can reroll the dough and cut it once).
While the doughnuts rise, fill a large heavy bottomed pot with at least 2 inches of oil. Heat over medium high heat. As always with frying, please be very careful. Using a spatula, carefully lower a few doughnuts into the oil; do not overcrowd the pot. If you have too many doughnuts in the pot, not only will it take longer to fry, but the dough will absorb more of the oil and we don't want greasy doughnuts. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes per side, turning a few times, until the doughnuts are a light golden brown and cooked though. Remove with a  slotted spoon, drain on a wire rack over a paper towel. Let them cool slightly before glazing. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes. Next step....the Salted Caramel. Cue Homer Simpson drool.
Salted Caramel
¾ cup cream

½ a vanilla bean, split length wise

½ cup sugar

2 tbsp. light corn syrup

4 tbsp. butter, chilled and cut into cubes

¼ tsp. kosher salt
Pour your cream in bowl, scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean. Add the whole bean and set aside.
Stir the sugar, corn syrup and 2 tbsp. cold water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium-high, boil, occasional swirling the pan, DO NOT STIR. Continue to cook for 5-6 minutes or until a deep amber color forms. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the vanilla cream. When I say gradual, I mean gradual, otherwise the sugar will seize up and you will have to re-melt it, so add the cream slowly. The mix will bubble, that is to be expected. Whisk over medium heat until smooth and thick, anywhere from 2-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter and salt. Stir until melted and smooth. Strain into a shallow bowl for dipping!!
Roasted Pecans
1 cup of crushed pecans
Toast your pecans on a pan in the oven. I prefer the low and slow approach when roasting nuts to decrease the odds of burning. I like my nuts slightly toasted, so toast on 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Every oven is different so please pay attention and don’t burn the nuts!! Place the nuts in a shallow bowl for dipping.
Assembling the doughnuts
Dip the doughnut in the caramel. Its okay, I like to double dip too!! Let the caramel set for at least 20 seconds and then dip in the nuts. Set on a wire rack. Dig in!! I enjoyed these last Saturday morning with a big glass of iced coffee on my terrace. Enjoy!!