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brioche doughnuts with chocolate-bourbon glaze

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

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 used Zoë François’ 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, 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

  • Reply
    Mona's Picturesque
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 1:17 am

    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 🙂

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Thank you so much! Such a nice comment to get. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 1:37 am

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

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Thank you Sarah! They are pretty tasty. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kate @ Veggie Desserts
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 4:11 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      Kitchen table dancing is the best. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sophia
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 4:43 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks Sophia! And, no-knead brioche is so good!

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 6:21 am

    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

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      Thank you Lindsey! xx

  • Reply
    Ileana
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 7:04 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      Thank you so much Ileana!

  • Reply
    Nik@ABrownTable
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 7:47 am

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

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      thank you Nik! And, yes, you’ll have to make it soon. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 8:10 am

    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 ; )

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you Kathryn! xx

  • Reply
    Sara @ Cake Over Steak
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 8:16 am

    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

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      Thank you so much Sara! xx

  • Reply
    Ashley
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 8:37 am

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

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      Thank you Ashley! And yes, fingers crossed for May. 🙂

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 9:12 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      Three days?! Sending you lots of love, Stephanie. xx

  • Reply
    Michelle @ Hummingbird High
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 9:20 am

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

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      Thank you Michelle! xx

  • Reply
    Liz @ Floating Kitchen
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Beautiful post and beautiful doughnuts.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      Thank you Liz! 🙂

  • Reply
    cynthia | two red bowls
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 10:17 am

    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.)

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you Cynthia! And, yes, brioche doughnuts FOREVER. xx

  • Reply
    Skye
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 12:15 pm

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

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you Skye!

  • Reply
    J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Thank you so much! And yes, I wish I could buy them somewhere, too. 🙂

  • Reply
    Allison from Baking: A Love Story
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 4:04 pm

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

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Thank you Allison!

  • Reply
    Melissa
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Your words give me the chills. Every time.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      xo, friend.

  • Reply
    Krys
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 10:02 pm

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

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Thank you Krys! And yes, try the glaze! 🙂

  • Reply
    Iris - Writer/Photographer
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Ooh man. I should not have read this.

  • Reply
    Tieghan
    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Thank you Tieghan!

  • Reply
    Cristina
    Friday, May 2, 2014 at 9:09 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      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. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land
    Friday, May 2, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    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

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm

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

  • Reply
    Kasey
    Friday, May 2, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      Thank you so much Kasey! I tend to get lost in moments quite frequently; it’s the romantic in me. 🙂 xo

  • Reply
    Sini | my blue&white kitchen
    Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 5:02 am

    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 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.”

  • Reply
    Leah’s Link Loves and Happy Cinco de Mayo!! | Georgia Peach On My Mind
    Monday, May 5, 2014 at 7:59 am

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  • Reply
    amber
    Monday, May 5, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    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 🙂

  • Reply
    kristan@the-broken-bread
    Monday, May 5, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Shikha @ Shikha la mode
    Monday, May 5, 2014 at 6:40 pm

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

  • Reply
    Georgia
    Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

    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!!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Todd
    Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 10:54 am

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

  • Reply
    elizabeth
    Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 5:50 am

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

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    kirti
    Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    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:)

  • Reply
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    Friday, May 9, 2014 at 9:58 am

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  • Reply
    Brooke
    Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    Monday, May 19, 2014 at 9:46 am

    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.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Claudette @dharmaanchor
    Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 12:45 pm

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

  • Reply
    stacey
    Friday, August 1, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      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. 🙂

  • Reply
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  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Laura
    Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    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…

    • Reply
      Sarah
      Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Laura, I’m so glad to hear you like them so much! I’m addicted to this brioche dough, and use it all the time. 🙂

  • Reply
    andrew hernandez
    Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 12:04 pm

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

  • Reply
    Tally erp 9
    Monday, June 6, 2016 at 6:04 am

    This sounds amazing!

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