Been a while! But there's a good reason. First, I got sick. And I can't give good feedback on a recipe when I can't taste it. Second, I don't often read what I'm going to be doing the next week before I embark on doing it, so when I took a look at this recipe strolling through the grocery store for ingredients, I realized it required a half-sphere silicone mold. Six types of whisks? I got that. Silicone mold? Nuh-uh. So I ordered it and waited.
Once you get all that out of the way though, this is actually a really fun recipe. A lot of steps, but it's gratifying. The first step is to make the cookie. It's nothing to write home about--just a shortbread cookie. I noticed when I was making it that it didn't come together quite as well as I thought it would--no smooth ball--so I ended up adding a little extra milk and kneading the ball a bit to get it together. I threw it in the fridge for 5 minutes to let it come together more, and rolled it out.
While the cookies baked, I dealt with the molds. That's a nice thing about this recipe: while there are a lot of steps and a lot of waiting for things to set, everything fits together like a zipper: each piece fits nicely into the pieces before and after it. The pictures here are in the order I did them, so while the cookies were baking and cooling, I melted chocolate and coated the molds.
And then once the cookies cooled, I dipped them in that same chocolate, and let them set. At this point, because I had made an extra cookie, I got to try one, and they were delicious. Do I wish they browned a bit? As a cookie alone, yes. But when you put it together, it's really interesting to have this mild, crumby cookie.
The final part of this recipe is the marshmallow. I advise you: if you have a hand mixer, use it. I do not, and said to myself "You haven't worked out in a while. You could use a little whisking." Well, it was a lot of whisking. Whisking egg whites isn't so bad. But over simmering water with sugar, sugar syrup, vanilla, and salt? It took longer. A lot longer. And I think I stopped too early. Ideally, the marshmallow turns thick and stiff, and while mine didn't drip, it did droop. But my arms were just so tired.
And now to put it all together. Assembly and presentation, as I'm sure I've said before, are is my forte. I'm basically making it up as I go along, and my DSLR makes everything look pretty. I have fun trying though. The key here, which I learned after filling 5 of the 6, is to not overfill with marshmallow. You will have leftover marshmallow. And, delicious as it is, you shouldn't fill to the brim, because then you'll have ugly bottoms. Like this....
Not that anyone sees the bottom of your dish, but I like to think every part of your craft should be beautiful. Even the parts nobody can see.
It adds something special that makes the final product taste that much better, subconsciously. And these tasted good. A few things I would do differently: leave the mold to drip more to give a thinner shell (the volume of chocolate made the dessert far too sweet), whip the marshmallow more to give a stiffer batter, and probably cook the biscuit a bit more to give it more of a snap and less of a crumble. I highly recommend making these. It's worth the effort.
Chocolate Tea Cakes
makes 6 cakes
100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) FLOUR
1/2 teaspoon BAKING POWDER
25 grams (1 ounce) GRANULATED SUGAR
25 grams (1 ounce) BUTTER
1 tablespoon MILK
3 large EGG WHITES
150 grams (5 1/2 ounces) GRANULATED SUGAR
6 teaspoons GOLDEN SYRUP
1/2 teaspoon SALT
1 teaspoon VANILLA EXTRACT
283 grams (10 ounces) CHOCOLATE MELTING WAFERS
1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. Place FLOUR, SALT, BAKING POWDER, and SUGAR into a bowl and mix
3. Rub BUTTER into flour mixture until consistent texture
4. Add MILK into mixture and stir until you form a smooth ball -- note: you may need to knead 5-6 times to bring mixture together if crumbly
5. On a floured surface, roll dough out to 14" thick, and cut out six rounds of 3" diameter to fit your silicone mold
6. Chill rounds in the freezer for 10 minutes, then bake 10-15 minutes until hard (note: they will not brown as normal biscuits because of the low oven temperature)
7. Remove biscuits from the oven and cool on a wire rack
8. Melt the CHOCOLATE WAFERS in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring thoroughly in-between, and let cool slightly
9. Coat the inside of the molds with chocolate by spooning into the molds, then spreading it up the sides with the back of a spoon, then flip the mold upside-down to let excess chocolate fall out (this leaves the coating thin). Set aside at room temperature to set.
10. Dip the flat side of the cooled biscuits in the remaining melted chocolate and leave chocolate side-up to cool on a wire rack
11. Place EGG WHITES, SUGAR, GOLDEN SYRUP, SALT, and VANILLA in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until it turns white and glossy, at least double the size, and thickened to be able to hold a shape
12. Spoon the marshmallow into a piping bag
13. Re-melt the chocolate (it will have hardened) and put it in a piping bag
14. Pipe the marshmallow into each mold, leaving 1/4" of room
15. Pipe some chocolate onto the marshmallow, and place the biscuit, chocolate side-up onto the marshmallow
16. Pipe a ring of chocolate around the biscuit base and smooth as much as you can
17. Leave to set fully, then press up on the bottom of the mold carefully to pop the cakes out of the mold. Store at room temperature
Ah, doughnuts. If I had to pick a favorite food (don't make me pick!), it would be doughnuts. I've always loved them. No joke, when I was in the 2nd grade and everybody had to draw what they wanted to be when they grew up, and most kids were drawing astronaut and firefighter, I chose doughnut maker. No, not baker. Specifically doughnut maker. I had an apron and a chef's had and was looking out of the window of "David's Donut Hut," a white and blue cottage where I imagined I made hundred of doughnuts for sale.
So any chance I get to eat/make doughnuts, I'll take. For the past few years, on National Doughnut Day (the first Friday of June), I've taken it upon myself to make a big plate of doughnuts, which my husband and I inevitably eat entirely by breakfast the following day. We've been known to regularly buy a dozen doughnuts at the grocery store after 5PM when they're half price and nibble at them for a few days. Long story short: the human body is 57% water, and the remaining 43%, at least for me, is made of doughnut.
This dough is quite easy: it's really just a "mix all together and see what happens" shtick. Like with all yeast breads, you're going to think it's never going to come together. And if you're anything like me, you'll want to give up and just throw the dough into a bowl and let it rise a really long time just so you don't have to deal with kneading. And that's definitely an option. This time, however, I decided to persevere. Usually, my doughs are shaggy and lumpy and I just go watch some Schitt's Creek until I remember I have bread to make. But it was late, and I wanted doughnuts, so I soldiered on with my kneading. I'm glad I did.
After the dough rises, you'll have this beautifully smooth mass and it will smell absolutely amazing. There's something about a sweet dough that just smells and feels right. It's a familiar stretchy Play-doh, and if I didn't love doughnuts so much, I would just stand there and play with it. If you've never made homemade yeast dough before, you are missing out. Even if the bread you make ends up sucking, the feel of homemade yeast dough in your hands really has no compare. It's so organic and comforting. Needless to say, I don't understand the gluten-free craze. And even if I'm having weird digestive interactions to yeast, I will suck it up to eat doughnuts.
The one little technical piece to this is how you roll the dough. And it's the one kind of odd part of this recipe. To me, these balls are way too big and way too spherical to be doughnuts. If I were to do this again, I would make 15-20 smaller doughnuts, and smash them down to ovals. That would cut down on the cooking time and allow you a more traditional doughnut shape. But Paul Hollywood wanted spheres.
The best way to do this is to roll the dough into a ball between your hands, then place it under one hand, which is "cupped" downward. If you move your cupped hand in a circular motion on your working surface, the dough will naturally form a ball that brings all of the seams to one side (the bottom). Flip it over and pinch everything together tightly (more tightly than I did), and you have a dough sphere ready for cooking.
Once the second rise is done, you're ready to start frying. I suppose you could bake them and make what I call "fauxnuts," but you've already committed yourself to making doughnuts, and everything in moderation, so if you're not frying the, you're really doing a disservice to the hard work you've already put in. You won't get the same crispiness and doughy goodness you'll get from frying. If you want to cut a couple calories and bake these instead, might I recommend taking a 20-minute walk instead, and then coming back and eating the fried dough? You're welcome.
Before I move on, let me talk about this tool. It is an infrared thermometer and a more traditional chef might say "get this high-tech gadgetry out of my kitchen--a candy thermometer will do nicely." To that I say, "Get off your high horse and into 2017." Candy thermometers are beasts. They're tall, their clamps are dismal, their readings are not clear. They are good for a lot of liquid in deep pots for staid chefs who are afraid of leaving their comfort zone. The infrared thermometer is a game changer. Within two seconds, you can know the exact temperature of your oil (or a pan, or your floors, or your shower water, or your husband's forehead), and when you want to keep a consistent temperature of 350F, only a sous vide machine can do as well.
Go to Amazon and buy one--you'll thank me later. Less than $20 to save yourself a lot of wasted food and worry wrinkles.
And here's where I should advise you to use a larger pan, if you're able. I didn't have enough oil to fill my large dutch oven enough to fry, so I used my trusty small saucepan, and it could only fit one doughnut at a time. Seeing as how each doughnut took 5-10 minutes to cook, I was standing at my stove for quite some time. You should be able to do these in batches of 2-3 and drastically cut down on your time, and speed up on your accuracy (I got sick of standing toward the end, so half of them ended up still raw inside).
How do you know if you're doing a good job? It's hard to tell if the inside is cooked, but I like to use the "tap 'til hollow" method of yeast doughs to start: if you tap on the cooked doughnut and it sounds somewhat hollow, you're probably in good shape. Another good indicator, for doughnuts specifically, is the telltale white line bisecting the ball. That is the key to a properly fried doughnut, and immediately lets the eye know that the stomach is in for some good food.
And good these were. I mean, honestly you can't go wrong with fried dough, so I wasn't expecting anything short of delicious, but there's something satisfying about making these yourself and being able to control things like how brown and crispy the get and how much jam you put inside. I have to say too that these doughnut are not nearly as greasy as the ones you would get down at your local doughnut shop. The key to that is making sure you have the right temperature oil (get the thermometer!). I would actually prefer these to be smaller and fried at a higher temperature (360F should do it)--this would allow them to cook all the way through, stay crispy dark brown on the outside, and absorb even less oil. Just enough to keep the sugar on, but not enough to leave your fingers slick after eating.
500 grams (1 pound 2 ounces) ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
50 grams (2 ounces) GRANULATED SUGAR
40 grams (1 1/2 ounces) UNSALTED BUTTER
2 large EGGS
14 grams INSTANT YEAST (rapid rise, not active dry)
10 grams (1/4 ounce) SALT
150 milliliters (5 fluid ounces) WARM MILK
130 milliliters (4 1/2 fluid ounces) WATER
GRANULATED SUGAR, for rolling
BERRY JAM, for filling
1. Place FLOUR, SUGAR, BUTTER, EGGS, YEAST, SALT, MILK, and 100 milliliters of WATER into a bowl
2. Stir with your hands until a dough is formed
3. Slowly add the remaining water and knead the dough in the bowl for four minutes (alternatively, mix in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment)
4. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic
5. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover, then leave to rise for 1 hour (or until doubled in size)
6. Knock the dough back by kneading it a few times
7. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and shape each into a ball
8. Place the balls of dough onto a floured baking tray and allow to rise for an hour
9. Heat a pot of oil to 350F
10. Lower each doughnut into the fryer, cooking each side for 5 minutes, or until golden brown
11. Remove the doughnuts from the oil and immediately roll in sugar and set aside to cool
12. Place the jam in a pastry bag, and use a paring knife to cut a hole or "X" into the side of the doughnut, then pipe the jam into the doughnut until full (1-2 tablespoons per doughnut)
A personal challenge to conquer every technical challenge, and select signature bakes, from The Great British Bake Off
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