This post is sponsored by California Walnuts. As always, all opinions are my own.
February has roared in like a lion, at least, here in Minnesota it sure feels that way. Piles of snow and subzero temperatures have started out this month of love, and my kids have spent more time home then in school. They have been reveling in the snow days (more than I ever had as a kid!) while I am frantically testing recipes and taking photos for my next book.
I did take a small break from cookies to work on donuts. Making donuts at home can be a challenge; frying oil and waiting for donuts to proof can seem daunting. But eating a warm, freshly fried donut covered in chocolate and candied walnuts is quite a treat, and worth the time and effort in my opinion.
I’ve teamed up with California Walnuts to bring you some recipes over the following year (such as this chocolate walnut cake and this chocolate walnut shortbread). Over 99 percent of walnuts grown in the U.S. come from California’s walnut orchards, many of which are on family owned and operated farms that have been around for generations. Walnuts are nutritious and heart-healthy*, and offer 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per ounce. Walnuts are also the only nut with a significant amount of plant based Omega 3 ALA (2.5 grams/ounce). You can check out the CA Walnuts website for more nutrition info, research, tips for cooking with walnuts, recipes. I’m excited to share more recipes with you!
I spent a lot of time the last two weeks making donuts and reading about donuts while working on getting the recipe right for this post. This article from the Washington Post was very helpful, this thread on The Fresh Loaf, this post from Joe Pastry, and also this webpage taught me a lot. The donuts here are light and delicious, and can be rolled in sugar or covered in glaze.
This recipe does rest the dough over night, so plan accordingly. Dough can be rolled and cut after the first rise, but the flavor really develops after a slow cold rise in the fridge. The dough also rolls out much more evenly when cold.
I do have a deep frier (this one here) that I found to be very helpful in making the donuts – I didn’t have to worry about the constantly changing temperature of the oil and could just focus on the donuts. However, a large Dutch oven and a candy thermometer will work just fine.
2/3 cup warm water (100F)
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg + 2 large yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour, (plus more if needed, see directions)
3 tablespoons (30g) non fat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon (9g) instant dry yeast
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature, and cut into 1-inch pieces
Canola oil for frying, enough to fill 4 inches from the top a medium to large Dutch oven
Adapted from Alton Brown
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 cups (200g) walnuts
1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix together the water, honey, egg, yolks, and vanilla.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, milk powder, yeast, 1/4 cup (50g) sugar, and salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until combined.
Knead the dough on medium speed for 6-8 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and mostly gather around the dough hook, although there will still be some clinging to the bottom of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter one piece at at time, mixing on low until completely combined (this will take a few minutes). Increase the speed to medium low and knead for 2-3 more minutes. The dough should form a ball around the dough hook at this point. If it doesn’t, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a soft ball forms (but don’t add more than 1/4 cup total).
Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Place the dough inside a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until it has puffed up and is almost double in size, about an hour. Cover the dough and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, move the dough to a lightly floured work surface.
Cut twelve or thirteen 5-inch square pieces of parchment paper, then arrange them on two baking sheets and lightly grease them with cooking spray. (The parchment paper will help the donuts keep their shape when transferring them to the hot oil – the parchment will go into the oil with the donuts.)
Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the cold dough out until it is 1/2-inch thick (try to keep the dough as even as possible). Using a small biscuit cutter (mine was 1-inch round), cut the dough into rounds, and then use a smaller cutter (I used the small part of a circle piping tip for this, but the tip of a small funnel will also work) to cut a small hole in the center of each donut. Move the donuts to the prepared baking sheet; put two donuts on each piece of cut parchment paper, with some space in between them for rising (you can also cut smaller, individual pieces of parchment, but I didn’t have the patience). Scraps of dough can be re-rolled and used one more time, although those donuts won’t turn out quite as pretty.
Cover the donuts with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free spot; the doughnuts should almost double in height, 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours.
When the donuts are ready to fry, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven, wok, or deep fryer to 365F.
Place a donut (on its paper) in a wire basket skimmer and place in the hot oil. Fry a few donuts at a time, being careful not to crowd them. Use tongs to pluck out the papers. Let the donuts cook about a minute until golden brown on the bottom, then use the skimmer to slip them to the uncooked side. Fry again for about a minute, monitoring the oil temperature and adjusting as needed. Use the skimmer to transfer the doughnuts to a wire rack set over paper towels and let cool for a minute or two. Repeat with the remaining donuts.
Glaze the donuts, placing them on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle with the chopped candied walnuts while the glaze is still warm. Let the glaze set before eating.
For the glaze
Combine the butter, milk, corn syrup, and salt in medium saucepan, and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Lower the heat, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted. Turn off heat, add the vanilla and the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Dip the doughnuts immediately.
For the candied walnuts
In a large skillet, stir together the walnuts, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to melt and the nuts begin to toast, stirring almost constantly. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the heat down to low and cook until the nuts are lightly caramelized. Pour the nuts onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let them cool completely before chopping into small pieces.
*Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One ounce of walnuts provides 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat, including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3.