brioche doughnuts with chocolate glaze | the vanilla bean blog
On December 10, 2007, I was 9 months pregnant with my first child, my daughter Winter. That particular day in December was also her due date, and my 10-year ‘dating’ anniversary with Adam. Ten years ago that very night after walking around for hours talking about how we wanted to be more than just friends, we found ourselves in front of the Winona Middle School and kissed for the first time sitting on the cold, concrete steps. I was wearing my white grandma sweater that came with me everywhere, and Adam had on blue and red: sweater, jeans, hat, and gloves; it was all red and blue. He walked me home, and we were together from that day forward (well, except for the break-up, and the break-up in the break-up. It’s complicated).

So ten years later, we climbed in our car and decided to hit the town to do something special. But I had achy hips, and the strong braxton hicks contractions I had been experiencing all afternoon were terrifying me, so I insisted we stay within 10 minutes of our house. This sort of put a damper on ‘hitting the town,’ and we drove around and around our neighborhood unable to decide where to eat. Finally after a half hour of arguing about restaurants and laughing hysterically, we pulled into an Applebees.

It was not the place I wanted to celebrate our years together. But, all I wanted was a chocolate malt. I wasn’t hungry, really, only tired, as my body was about to produce another body. So we sat down in an over-sized booth, and I drank my chocolate malt while we spent our time remembering so many important details from that night on the middle school steps.

April has not shown herself to be kind, and we just made our way through another stressful weekend on top of a stressful week. In a moment of weakness I jumped in the car at 8 pm Monday night and bought ice cream and chocolate syrup at the local grocery store. As I loaded the bag in my trunk, I glanced across the parking lot and saw that same Applebees all lit up like a Christmas tree. I hadn’t been in since our anniversary date, and I found myself smiling, remembering that night so long ago. Here I was again, years later, about to sell my birthright for a chocolate malt. I went home to Adam, and put the ice cream and syrup and a huge splash of bourbon in the blender. We drank those cold shakes in silence, smiling and nodding. It may have rained for forty days and nights this week and I have more on my plate than I can chew, but it was quietly forgotten for a brief moment. I sat there, remembering how I looked into Winter’s eyes for the first time. They were dark, murky pools; they had never seen light. I held her close to me, memorizing her. She belonged to us now, and we belonged to her.

old wool sweaters, concrete stairs,
first kisses, hats and mittens,
comfy booths, long talks,
red and blue jeans, winter walks,
a splash of bourbon and chocolate malts,
that’s what little girls are made of.
brioche doughnuts with chocolate bourbon glaze | the vanilla bean blog

brioche doughnuts with chocolate bourbon glaze | the vanilla bean blog
Brioche doughnuts with chocolate-bourbon glaze
I decided to give you a recipe for these doughnut instead of a chocolate malt, because I really just threw a few scoops of ice cream in a blender and topped it off with a squirt of chocolate and a mighty fine splash of bourbon. But, there is chocolate, and bourbon, and cream here as well, so it’s sort of the same thing.

I hate to send you all over the place, but I used three different recipes to make these doughnuts, and I didn’t change much, if anything on them, so I feel a link is best. I used Bread in Five’s famous no-knead brioche dough for these doughnuts, which makes things extra easy, as you can make the dough up to a week in advance, and store it in the fridge (if you’d like to go the healthier route, their whole wheat brioche dough also works here). I used 1 1/2 pounds of dough, which made a little more than 2 dozen mini doughnuts. I usedย Zoรซ Franรงois’ pastry cream recipe here; and folded 1/2 cup whipped cream into the pastry cream; it worked perfectly (and can also be made a few days ahead). For the glaze, I used Alton Brown’s Chocolate Bourbon Glaze, and stirred in 1 tablespoons of bourbon at the end.

1 1/2 pounds of brioche dough (see note)
flour, for rolling
canola oil, for frying
pastry cream (see note)
chocolate-bourbon glaze (see note)

Roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Using a small biscuit or cookie cutter (mine was about 2 inches), cut out the dough into small circles, and place them on a lined sheet pan. Let the doughnuts rest 15-20 minutes while the oil is heating up.

Pour the canola oil to a depth of about 3 inches into a large, heavy saucepan and heat the oil to 360-370 degrees (as determined by a candy thermometer). Carefully drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, 2 or 3 at a time. Do not overcrowd them. After 1-2 minutes (or until doughnuts are light golden brown and puffed), flip the doughnuts over with a slotted spoon and fry another minute or until golden brown on both sides.

Using the slotted spoon, remove the doughnuts from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the doughnuts are fried. When the doughnuts have cooled,ย poke a hole in the side of each doughnut. Fit a pastry bag with a small round tip and fill the bag with the filling. Squirt 1-2 tablespoons inside each doughnut. Glaze the doughnuts with the chocolate-bourbon glaze, and wait for it to set. These doughnuts are best eaten the day they are made.
brioche doughnuts with chocolate bourbon glaze | the vanilla bean blog

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71 Responses to brioche doughnuts with chocolate-bourbon glaze

  1. I love LOVE love your blog!
    Not that I would ever bake or cook… but I love the way you write, how your words come out and the beautiful stories you share. I love the pictures, the mood… everything.
    Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Sarah says:

    These look amazingly tasty, I might just have to try making them

  3. Beautiful story. Boozy shakes and boozy doughnuts make me want to clamber onto my kitchen table and dance sock-footed to early 90s subpop and forget that I’m a grown adult and wife and mother and I’ve just failed my bloody driving test for the second bloody time and I’m not a teenager and I shouldn’t be dancing on tables, drunk on shakes, to Blind Melon.

  4. Sophia says:

    What a wonderful story Sarah! It made me think back to when I first met my boyfriend – I still remember exactly what he wore on our first date, where we went, what we ate, the waiter etc. Such sweet memories.

    This no-knead brioche recipe is so intriguing – I am all for no-knead recipes but have yet to try that technique with brioche, will need to give this a try!

  5. Lindsey says:

    what a beautiful story. it’s the simple moments that i find are most special and memorable – save for the birth of a child of course! i loved reading each inch of this post, sarah – always so touching.
    and these brioche doughnuts are so necessary! and perfect! xo

  6. Ileana says:

    What lovely memories and such a delicious-looking recipe to go with them. I’ll take the bourbon, chocolate, and cream in any form – malt or doughnut.

  7. I loved reading this post, Sarah! It was so sweet and precious. That chocolate bourbon glazed brioche has my name written all over it ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Kathryn says:

    Such a lyrical piece of writing Sarah and one that will stay with me for a long time. As will the thought of these doughnuts ; )

  9. Sarah, this is such a beautiful post. The glimpse into your relationship with your husband, the way you describe your first moments with your daughter … I love it. It is posts like this one that made me fall in love with food blogs like yours in the first place … and what keep me coming back. Thank you. xoxo

  10. Ashley says:

    Beautiful! And I hope May brings in a little light for you. Hugs! (also…mmmm, doughnuts)

  11. I just love this post (especially because I can relate to it so much, being due with my baby girl in three days (!!)). And these doughnuts… swoon. I want to make them and drink a malt and wait out this rainy weather.

  12. Sarah, what a beautiful blog post. The writing and the recipe and the pictures are simply stunning.

  13. Beautiful post and beautiful doughnuts.

  14. Just echoing what everyone else has already said, lovely Sarah — this is beautiful, so lyrical, and so touching. The kind of words and images you carry with you all week. Thank you so much for this. (And um, Bread in 5 brioche FOREVER! I would have never thought to fry it for doughnuts….oh my goodness. Day made.)

  15. Skye says:

    You write so evocatively. What beautiful memories. I hope that things get better soon.
    And these doughnuts? Heaven. Chocolate bourbon glaze? Inspired.

  16. The fact that is a brioche doughnut and that you added bourbon to the chocolate just take this way beyond your average chocolate covered, custard filled donuts. Wish I could buy those somewhere!

  17. You are so creative. I love this. And, thank you for writing about your life. I love that even more.

  18. Melissa says:

    Your words give me the chills. Every time.

  19. Krys says:

    Your writing is just beautiful. I can’t wait to try that chocolate-bourbon glaze!

  20. Ooh man. I should not have read this.

  21. Tieghan says:

    Such a beautiful post that will stick with me for a long time. And umm, these doughnut! I will be thinking of these as well!

  22. Cristina says:

    I am crazy for that little poem at the end, a new and personal nursery rhyme, and so much truer than the standard version. The doughnuts also look wonderful as well.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you Cristina! I couldn’t get the original out of my head when I was writing this, so I just decided to write it my own way. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. i cry, i die, of cuteness and amazement, the beautiful food memories you continue to re-create and share! love your writing, sarah! all i wanted when i was pregnant was ice cold cantaloupe and cups of ice. those little doughnuts looks as perfect as this post is. xo

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you Lyndsay! Cold cantaloupe and ice sounds really good right now for some reason, ha. I must just be craving summer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Kasey says:

    Sarah, your words are mesmerizing. What an absolutely beautiful post. I think it’s the most wonderful thing to get lost in a moment – by yourself – or with someone you love.

  25. Thanks you for sharing this very personal post with us. Also, the little doughnuts look to die for.

    These words are so beautiful, Sarah. I nearly cried; I already felt that lump forming in my throat:

    “I sat there, remembering how I looked into Winterโ€™s eyes for the first time. They were dark, murky pools; they had never seen light. I held her close to me, memorizing her. She belonged to us now, and we belonged to her.”

  26. amber says:

    such a tender post, warmed my heart. i remember laying eyes on our daughter nora for the first time this january. although it wasn’t long ago it’s definitely a moment i will never forget!

    i have yet to attempt donuts but these sound delightful. the photographs are quite literally making my mouth water, thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Sarah,

    This post is beyond lovely. Seriously. Thank you for sharing such a personal memory, I love how your words are able to connect with so many.

    Also, these brioche doughnuts look incredible!

  28. These remind of Boston cream pies a little bit in their appearance! Equally as delicious.

  29. Georgia says:

    What magical and beautifully written memories of love and life and all things good and not so good…that IS life and sounds like you have a sweet, precious family to share it with!
    BTW…the donuts look amazing!!

  30. […] Don’t even know what to do with myself: brioche doughnuts with chocolate bourbon glaze. […]

  31. Todd says:

    Such a beautiful post Sarah. You’re such an inspiration…your recipes, your photography, your words. Thank you so much for being you!!

  32. elizabeth says:

    What a sweet story to go with a lovely recipe. A grandma sweater and a chocolate bourbon milkshake sound like heaven.

  33. […] * Ooey Gooey Blackberry Butter Bars BakersRoyale * BRIOCHE DOUGHNUTS WITH CHOCOLATE-BOURBON GLAZE VanillaBeanBlog * Chocolate mascarpone cake with berries […]

  34. kirti says:

    Coincidentally, I met my husband 10 yrs back too. This June we would celebrate our anniversary. When I read you anniv memories, it made me think about the importance of making memories in the first place, and how we quickly forget how happy it is to be together. Your lovely words and your lovely blog inspire me everyday. Thankyou:)

  35. […] feeling like a prisoner with the amount of time that it took. But if being a prisoner means heavenly little donuts, I may have to rethink my ban on brioche […]

  36. Brooke says:

    This is a fantastic blog and I loved reading this post. When you are in a relationship you ‘eat from the same pot’. Getting to know each others food preferences and eating habits is part of the process of becoming intimate with each other. The love of good food, whether cooked at home, at friends or at a restaurant has been a major part of mine and my partners relationship and like you we have memories tied to places we have eaten or to some ‘eating phase’ we were going through at that time.
    I love this recipe too thanks. I have an occasion coming up where these doughnuts would be ideal so I’m going to get a practice-run in (or two). Luckily I have a husband who doesn’t mind gobbling down my test-runs.

  37. Lauren says:

    Just lovely! And oh so yummy in fact I’m tempted to go off the wagon and whip up a few of these beauties myself.

  38. […] Brioche Doughnuts with Chocolate Bourbon Glaze – I can’t even. […]

  39. You have one of the most beautiful blogs going, not to mention recipes like this really make me wish I was better at baking. ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. stacey says:

    Oh my goodness! You should really think about writing a book! I would read it! Your words are strung together in such a way I could not put the book down I just know it! I clicked on the pin for your recipe but wow I love your blog post!

    • Sarah says:

      Stacey – what a lovely comment! Thank you so much for your kind words; they made my day. I’ll let you know if I ever write a book. ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. […] time, I decided to try my own. My first attempt happened last Monday. I found a great recipe on The Vanilla Bean Blog, tweaked it a little, and went to town.ย I had spent all Sunday night preparing the dough and the […]

  42. […] time, I decided to try my own. My first attempt happened last Monday. I found a great recipe on The Vanilla Bean Blog, tweaked it a little, and went to town.ย I had spent all Sunday night preparing the dough and the […]

  43. Laura says:

    These are the BEST doughnuts I have ever had. First time making doughnuts, and first time making brioche dough. These are fantastic. I ended up making little doughnut holes at first due to a misunderstanding on what size of cookie cutter to use; they were still amazing. With or without sugar, chocolate, filling; these doughnuts are perfection. I cannot wait to share them with my friends and family. This recipe is a keeper for life. THANK YOU.

    I made the dough a day in advance, which I would suggest since you need to chill the dough to make it easier to handle. The filling is great as well and, since it also needs to be chilled, I would also suggest making this a day in advance just to make things easier on yourself. I will have to fry some more tomorrow morning though, I don’t know how these will stay through the night…

  44. I really like this bog post. How you write how to make them and how people are thanking you for this great blog.

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