Ah, crème brûlée. The custard with such a French name that merely uttering it lends an air of sophistication to the speaker. A staple at moderately upscale restaurants everywhere and in the kitchens of cooks hoping to impress their friends. Simple as it may be, there is something inherently fancy about the creamy custard topped with a crunchy caramel crust (and it’s not the alliteration).
|*singing* This dessert is on fire! source|
I must admit—I’ve never actually made crème brûlée. I have made crème caramel, or flan, before. It was a few years ago when I nervously baked those ramekins of caramel and custard and found, to my delight, that they actually came out perfectly. Having a soft caramel on top rather than hard caramel, flan is a little different from crème brûlée, but the concept is similar.
And I loved both of them. I ordered flan and crème brûlée at restaurants all the time, as did my dad. We thought ourselves very fancy, dipping our spoons into the creamy, vanilla bean-speckled custard. So it was only natural I tried making it at home.
Yet since that one occasion, I haven’t touched a flan or crème brûlée recipe since. A shame, I should think.
But now that wrong is being righted. Not with traditional crème brûlée, no, but with something far more sophisticated and highbrow than those little plebeian ramekins of custard—
Yes. Doughnuts. Little yeast doughnuts filled with vanilla custard and topped with hard caramel. A long, arduous process, but one worthy of your most careful efforts to bring these pastries to life in your kitchen.
|I might be a little melodramatic about it.|
I originally saw a recipe for crème brûlée doughnuts on SugarHero. I was intrigued, but noticed that the recipe called for a kitchen torch; and so I set that idea aside for a while. But later, another iteration popped up on my blog feed from Simply Delicious that used a stovetop hard caramel instead—something that I could easily (?) make with equipment I already have. And so I did.
While this recipe is pretty difficult compared to most of the stuff I make—it involves not only frying doughnuts in hot oil but also covering them in this thick, hot caramel that starts hardening the moment you take it off the heat—it is super rewarding and you will feel fancy as fuck when they are all finished. That is why I decided to use that fancy plate, you know. It was a no-brainer.
Here’s the recipe.
Vegan crème brûlée doughnuts
Adapted from Simply Delicious
Makes 15 to 18 doughnuts
60 grams • water • ¼ cup
42 grams • coconut oil • 3 tablespoons
122 grams • nondairy milk • ½ cup
408 grams • cake flour • 3 cups
50 grams • granulated sugar • ¼ cup
7 grams • active dry yeast • ¼ ounce
55 grams • silken tofu • ¼ cup
Canola oil, for deep-frying
366 grams • nondairy milk • 1 ½ cups
8 grams • Ener-g egg replacer • 1 tablespoon
45 grams • water • 3 tablespoons
68 grams • granulated sugar • 1/3 cup
18 grams • all-purpose flour • 2 tablespoons
4 grams • vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon
400 grams • granulated sugar • 2 cups
In a medium saucepan, combine water, coconut oil, and milk until the oil melts. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add warm oil-milk mixture to flour mixture and mix. Add tofu and mix once more.
Knead (using dough hook) for 5 to 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and soft. Transfer to a greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel; let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the custard filling. Heat milk and turmeric in a medium saucepan until it is just about to boil. While the milk is heating up, whisk together egg replacer, water, and sugar in a separate bowl until thoroughly combined and just a little fluffy. Add flour and salt; mix well. Once the milk has reached boiling point, slowing begin to pour the egg replacer mixture into the saucepan while whisking consistently. Cook, continuing to stir, for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and glossy. Stir in vanilla once the custard is finished cooking. Strain the custard into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let chill while you continue with the doughnuts.
Once the dough has risen, gently punch it down and turn out onto a floured surface. Roll out to a little less than an inch thick. Cut out round circles of dough and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let rise for another 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a nice big pot, preferably heavy-bottomed and with high sides, to 365 degrees F. Fry the doughnuts, at most 4 at a time, to golden-brown perfection over the course of about 2 or 3 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack with a sheet of parchment underneath it (to catch dripping grease). Let doughnuts cool to room temperature.
To fill the doughnuts, place chilled custard filling in a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip and stick in the sides of each doughnut to squeeze a little bit of filling into the inner crevices of each pastry. I find this is much easier if you make a slit with a serrated knife beforehand.
To finish, place sugar in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Melt sugar, swirling pan occasionally, and cook until it turns a rich amber color. Remove from heat and carefully dip doughnuts in caramel (using tongs or something like that, I would hope! for your safety). Alternatively, you can drizzle the caramel on top, like I did after giving up on dipping the doughnuts. Let cool and harden on wire rack once more. Now eat!
|Check out that fancy plate.|
For other doughnut recipes, check out these links.
Apple cider doughnuts with stewed apple pie filling. The most popular recipe on the blog—and for good reason!
Chai sufganiyot with pumpkin orange buttercream. Who says you can only eat sufganiyot for Hannukah?
Raisin doughnuts with sticky toffee glaze. Like sticky toffee pudding.