Chilli Chocolate Custard Doughnuts

Monday March 17 2014
by Sophie E

In the last few weeks I started my new big kid job. I also bought a car and moved out of my temporary living space (aka my parents house) and into a new flat.

In all honesty I still have only a vague idea of what I am doing in this new job of mine. Something to do with food, and stock, and keeping clients stocked with food. Last week I tried sending 166kg of food stock through a PO box slot. Ah well its all a learning process right? Sometimes you just need to be thrown in the deep end and pray that everything will work out ok. That is sort of how I felt about making doughnuts the other weekend. I can definitely relate to the poor balls of dough being thrown in a pot of bubbling hot oil!

Having never made doughnuts in my life before I set out to make a ‘Thanks for picking me as your new flat mate” treat for my wonderful new flat mates.

I found my new flat mates on Trademe. I likened it to blind dating.

My first ever blind dating experience turned out to be a raging success and the brave young man still puts up with my cake crazed personality six months later (thanks Tinder!). So to continue on with my blind date winning streak, my new flat mates also turned out to be amazing. It was love at first text. They are three of the most brilliant, intelligent, sassy and beautiful young women I have ever met. I have a feeling this is going to be an excellent year full of girl power, wine and hilariousness.

So throwing caution and my well balanced diet to the wind I set out on a great deep-fried sweet bread adventure.

Little and Friday have an infamous reputation when it comes to making the most amazing custard filled doughnuts. I sought expert advice and turned to the pages of their latest book Celebrations by Kim Evans.

I must have been feeling particularly adventurous when I decided to bypass the simple custard donuts and instead choose to make the chocolate chilli custard donuts.

I did make a few alterations to the recipe though. I reduced the amount of butter in the dough from 100g to 70g and only put in 350g of dark chocolate into the custard as my visa debit was feeling too much of a pinch to invest in 500g.

The reason why I have never made doughnuts before is because I have never been in possession of a deep fryer nor a heavy duty thermometer that I could use to gauge the oil temperature. I threw down my trusty YOLO card and used a saucepan and the highly scientific method of guesstimation to determine when the oil was hot enough to start cooking in. I used a whole bottle of rice bran oil in a medium to small sized saucepan. I took a small ball of dough, about the size of a marble and used it to test the oil. When you drop it in, it should start bubbling away fiercly immediately. If it does this then you are good to go. If it sort of just sits there and sinks to the bottom not doing much then remove the ball and try again in a few minutes. I would say give the oil 10 to 15 minutes to get to temperature in the saucepan. The second time I made these I gave coconut oil a go. In all honesty I am not sure what all this hoo-ha over coconut oil is. I prefer the flavour produced by the rice bran. I also prefer the price tag . . .

So definitely give these a go one lazy weekend! It is so worth the time and effort (and calories).

Spiced Chocolate Custard Doughnuts
Makes 14 decent handful sized ones

For the dough:
3 cups plain flour
¼ cup castor sugar
1 packet of instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
180ml milk, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
70g butter, cubed
750ml rice bran oil for frying (don’t worry, once the oil has cooled down after cooking you can pop it in a large jar and keep it for next time you want to make doughnuts)

For the custard:
500ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
½ cup castor sugar
3 egg yolks
¼ cup corn flour
350g dark chocolate (I used a bag of Nestle dark chocolate melts)
¼ cup cocoa
pinch of chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Vanilla sugar:
1 ½ cups castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste

To make the custard:

In another large bowl or your cake mixer (you may want to transfer the dough to another container so you can do this) beat/whisk together the cornflour, egg yolks and half of the sugar until a thick but smooth paste forms.

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In a medium sized saucepan on a medium to low heat, warm the milk and the other half of the sugar as well as the vanilla until just below simmering.

With the cake mixer or handmixer still going, carefully and slowly pour half of the milk mixture into the egg and cornflour one. Make sure you whisk in all of the cornflour lumps and bumps. Then return this mix to the other half of the milk back in the saucepan and return to the stove on a low heat. Steadily whisking constantly to prevent the formation of lumps, the custard should begin to thicken. Don’t let it boil. Remove from the heat once the custard resembles runny mashed potato. Leave to one side to cool.

In a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt the dark chocolate. Once melted, add in the cocoa, cinnamon and chilli. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until it reaches the same temperature as the custard.

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Combine the custard and the chocolate mixture until a smooth and chocolately custard results. I put mine back in my mixer and whisked it for a few seconds. Leave to cool further. This will keep for around three days if kept covered in the fridge.

To make the vanilla sugar:

Take the castor sugar and rub into it the vanilla paste or stir in the ground vanilla bean.

To make the dough:

To make the doughnut dough, mix together the yeast, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl but preferably a cake mixer.

In a jug, whisk together the milk, egg and yolks.

With the mixer’s dough hook on the lowest speed (or your other hand stirring with a large spoon) slowly pour in the milk mixture and stir until it all comes together to form a sticky dough.

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Continue kneading the dough for 5 minutes (10 if by hand).

One piece at a time, knead in the cube of butter until it has been fully incorporated into the dough. Repeat this with the rest of the butter. This will take a little patience. If you pull at the dough and it becomes transparent and is nice and elastic then it is ready to be proved. If it is tough and breaks easily, keep kneading until the former characteristics develop.

Cover the bowl in a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place like a sunny kitchen bench or the hot water cupboard until the dough doubles in size.

Once the dough has doubled in size, start heating up your oil. Pour 750ml to a litre of rice bran oil into a medium sized saucepan, pop on the lid and leave to heat up on a medium high heat for ten minutes.

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Tip the dough out onto a floured bench until it is around 3cm thick. Take a round 10cm (or heart shaped like I used) cookie cutter and cut the dough into portions.

Take a small marble sized piece of off-cut dough and drop it into the oil. If it starts sizzling the bubbling away ferociously as soon as it hits the oil then it is ready to start frying. If it starts sinking and nothing really happens, remove the dough ball and leave to heat for another few minutes until you test it again.

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Taking two circles of dough at a time, place them in the oil and fry for around one and a half minutes on each side. Once a nice brown colour that sounds hollow when tapped, take the doughnuts out and toss in the vanilla sugar before transferring to a tea towel or wire rack to cook. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

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To assemble:

Once the doughnuts have cooled down to a cool to warmish temperature take a small sharp knife and stab a hole into each, wiggling around to create a hollow cavity within. Fill a piping bag with a large round tip with the chocolate custard. Stick the tip of the nozzle into the hole of each doughnut and squeeze to fill until the custard pushes back and starts to come back out the top a wee bit.

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Serve them immediately or wait until they fully cool to wrap them up with baking paper and twine to create a lovely transportable treat for your friends and loved ones.

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