Discover more from The Bittman Project
Minimalist, Meet Maximalist
By way of black cocoa and malted milk vanilla bean Boston cream doughnuts
Mark and I have pretty opposite styles when it comes to cooking. His recipes are known for their short ingredient lists and simplicity. I, on the other hand, like an odd ingredient or two, and tend to make things from scratch (e.g. culturing cream to make the butter to make the puff pastry to make the tarts) just for the extra challenge. He’s The Minimalist, and I guess you could call me a Maximalist.
For this installment of Holly Being Extra Because She Can, I’m adding some of my favorite ingredients that take my bakes to the next level. First off, dry milk powder — an ingredient I tend to add to most of my bakes now. The caramelization of the milk sugars enhances the flavor of almost anything, from cookies to cakes and breads.
I prefer to work with instant yeast because it doesn’t require proofing, so that’s what I used instead of active dry yeast. Instant yeast can be added directly to the dry ingredients. It has finer granules than active dry and is more concentrated so I reduced the amount to 2 teaspoons for this recipe.
Another one of my favorite flavor enhancers is malted milk powder. It adds a subtly sweet, malty, and slightly nutty flavor. I added a tablespoon to the pastry cream filling. I also swapped out the vanilla extract for vanilla bean paste because nothing says luxury to me like little specks of vanilla beans in a dessert. The combination of malted milk and the crunch of vanilla bean seeds make the pastry cream taste like a malted vanilla milkshake.
And finally, I used black cocoa powder in the glaze. It’s the same cocoa used to make Oreos, so it’s got that rich, intense chocolate flavor without any bitterness. This is my go-to cocoa powder for making brownies.
So, what started as a recipe for Mark’s recipe for Boston Cream Doughnuts has turned into something a little more in line with the flavors that excite me — Black Cocoa and Malted Milk Vanilla Bean Boston Cream Doughnuts. It’s a delicious mouthful.
Black Cocoa and Malted Milk Vanilla Bean Boston Cream Doughnuts
Modified from Mark Bittman’s Boston Cream Doughnuts recipe.
For the doughnuts
1 1/4 cups whole milk
8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 quarts neutral oil, for frying, plus more for the bowl
For the glaze
1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup black cocoa powder
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
For the pastry cream
⅔ cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon malted milk powder
a pinch of salt
2 cups cream
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
For the doughnuts
Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, beat 1 1/4 cups milk, 2 eggs, 8 tablespoons melted and cooled butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add half of the flour (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons), 2 tablespoons dry milk powder, and 2 teaspoons instant yeast and mix until combined, then mix in the rest of the flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time, if the dough is too wet. If you’re using an electric mixer, the dough will probably become too thick to beat; when it does, transfer it to a floured surface, and gently knead it until smooth. Grease a large bowl with a little oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover. Let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and roll it to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out the doughnuts with a doughnut cutter, concentric cookie cutters or a drinking glass and a shot glass (the larger one should be about 3 inches in diameter), flouring the cutters as you go. Reserve the doughnut holes. If you’re making filled doughnuts, don’t cut out the middle. Knead any scraps together, being careful not to overwork, and let rest for a few minutes before repeating the process.
Put the doughnuts on two floured baking sheets so that there is plenty of room between each one. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until they are slightly puffed up and delicate, about 45 minutes. If your kitchen isn’t warm, heat the oven to 200°F at the beginning of this step, then turn off the heat, put the baking sheets in the oven, and leave the door ajar.
About 15 minutes before the doughnuts are done rising, put the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and heat it to 375°F. Meanwhile, line cooling racks, baking sheets or plates with paper towels.
Carefully add the doughnuts to the oil, a few at a time. If they’re too delicate to pick up with your fingers (they may be this way only if you rose them in the oven), use a metal spatula to pick them up and slide them into the oil. It’s OK if they deflate a bit; they’ll puff back up as they fry. When the bottoms are deep golden, after 45 seconds to a minute, use a slotted spoon to flip; cook until they’re deep golden all over. Doughnut holes cook faster. Transfer the doughnuts to the prepared plates or racks, and repeat with the rest of the dough, adjusting the heat as needed to keep the oil at 375°F.
For the glaze
For the glaze, whisk together 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup black cocoa powder, 1/4 cup milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Dip the tops of the doughnuts in the glaze, and let it harden on a rack.
For the pastry cream filling
Combine 2/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 tablespoon malted milk powder and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk in 2 eggs and 2 cups cream. Continue cooking, whisking almost constantly, until the mixture just begins to boil and thickens, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently; cook until it coats the back of a spoon (when you draw your finger through this coating, the resulting line should hold its shape). Stir in 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, and cool to room temperature before using.
To fill the doughnuts with the pastry cream, insert the tip of a pastry bag filled with cream into the side of the doughnut, and squeeze. (Alternatively, poke a chopstick into the side of the doughnut, and wiggle it around to hollow out some space inside. Plunge a small funnel into the hole, spoon some filling into the funnel and use the chopstick to push it into the doughnut. If the filling clumps up toward the center of the doughnut, just press lightly on the top to distribute it evenly.)