Creme Brûlée Donuts

Creme brulee donutsCreme brûlée is one of my favorite desserts. Trey can tell you, if it’s on the menu, I’ll probably be ordering it. So, when I saw these creme brûlée donuts in A Baker’s Field Guide to Doughnuts, I knew I’d be giving them a try sooner or later. I feel like I learn a lot from following other (more experienced) baker’s recipes. If you ever come over to my house and pull a cook book off my bookshelf, you’ll probably see a few notes scratch into the margins. Creme brulee donuts This recipe looked challenging. First you wrestle with a yeasted dough, then you’ve got to fill fried donuts with a gooey custard, and finally you have to brulee the tops without completely burning them. I wouldn’t say I mastered this one. But I did learn a lot, and I’d love to share that with you in case you plan to make these.

Oh, and you might be wondering if it’s worth the trouble. The answer: yes. These are SO delicious!How to make filled donutsCreme Brûlée Donuts, makes forty 2 1/2 inch donuts. Adapted from this book.

2/3 cup warm water
4 1/2 teaspoons (two packets) active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar + a pinch
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 to 4 1/4 cups flour
oil for frying (I used vegetable, you can also use shortening)

In a small bowl combine the warm water with a pinch of sugar, stir to combine. Pour in the yeast and allow to sit and activate for at least 5 minutes. The yeast should bubble a little. That’s how you know it’s working. (It’s alive!)

In the bowl of your stand mixer add the sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla extract and nutmeg. Stir to combine. In a small pot over low heat melt the butter with the milk. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour a few tablespoons of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture and stir. This will temper the eggs. Now pour the rest of the milk mixture into the bowl. Add in the yeast water and 2 cups flour. With the dough hook attachment start your mixer. Once most of the dough has been incorporated stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining 2 cups flour and mix to combine. The dough should form a ball but will be quite sticky. If the dough doesn’t seem to be sticking together add in another 1/4 cup flour. Place in a slightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.

Roll the dough out on a slightly floured surface. Use a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut out donuts. Each should be 1/2-inch thick. I think you could easily go up to a 3-inch biscuit cutter for slightly larger donuts without much trouble. Place the cut donuts on a baking sheet covered with wax paper and a little flour, cover, and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.Custard for filled donutsPastry Cream (for the filling)

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium size pot heat the cream until almost boiling. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Pour a few tablespoons of the hot cream into the eggs, whisking to incorporate. This will temper the egg mixture (warming it up so the eggs don’t cook too quickly). Pour the egg mixture into the warm cream pot, whisking as you pour. Cook over medium/low heat, whisking the whole time, for 2-3 minutes. The mixture will thicken into a thin custard. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Allow this to cool to room temperature. If you find that you have a few lumps in your custard, curse yourself for not being perfect. Just kidding. I had a few lumps too. Just strain through a fine mesh sieve and no one will be the wiser. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. To avoid having a custard skin form over the top be sure to press the plastic wrap right onto the warm custard before refrigerating.How to make filled donuts Back to the donuts. After the second rise you can fill a large, heavy duty pot with 2-3 inches of oil. Heat to around 350°F. I like to use a candy thermometer to monitor my oil but it’s not totally necessary. You can simply test oil with a scrap piece of dough before cooking.

Once the oil is ready place a few donuts in the oil. After about 30 seconds flip each donut. Most of mine flipped on their own as they start to puff up in the oil. Others needed a little extra help. After flipping let them cook another 30-40 seconds. Then remove to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.

Once these are cool enough to handle, fill them with the custard. At first I tried this with a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. This proved to be very difficult to maneuver as the custard is less firm than frosting. I then switched to using a squirt bottle (like you use for royal frosting) and that was MUCH easier. Lesson: Use a squirt bottle.How to make creme brulee donutsIf you want to stop right here and just eat a few of these I won’t tell. I’m not even telling on myself. Pretty good secret keeper, no?

Dip the tops of the donuts in super fine sugar. You can use regular, granulated sugar but super fine works best in brûlée recipes as it will caramelize faster. I own a kitchen torch. But, I realize lots of people don’t and don’t really want to make the investment. The recipe I was following suggested just sticking these under the broiler for a few seconds to brulee the tops, so I gave that a try.Creme brulee donuts Here’s the thing with the broiler. It won’t brulee everything evenly. So you will end up with a few burnt edges while at the same time getting a few perfect centers and then a few that just won’t be done. If you want perfect tops get a kitchen torch. If you don’t mind imperfection just use the broiler. In my attempt to get as close to perfect as I could with a broiler, I ended up with a few more toasty edges than I would have liked. Still delicious though, kind of like burnt popcorn. 🙂Creme brulee donuts And if you just read through this and you’re thinking, “Dude, this is way too hard! I just want some donuts with minimal effort! Geez.” I hear you. You should totally make these biscuit donuts. They are beyond easy and oh-so-yummy. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Creme Brûlée Donuts

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons two packets active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar + a pinch
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups flour
  • oil for frying I used vegetable, you can also use shortening

Pastry Cream (for filling)

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl combine the warm water with a pinch of sugar, stir to combine. Pour in the yeast and allow to sit and activate for at least 5 minutes. The yeast should bubble a little. That's how you know it's working. (It's alive!)
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer add the sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla extract and nutmeg. Stir to combine. In a small pot over low heat melt the butter with the milk. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour a few tablespoons of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture and stir. This will temper the eggs. Now pour the rest of the milk mixture into the bowl. Add in the yeast water and 2 cups flour. With the dough hook attachment start your mixer. Once most of the dough has been incorporated stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining 2 cups flour and mix to combine. The dough should form a ball but will be quite sticky. If the dough doesn't seem to be sticking together add in another 1/4 cup flour. Place in a slightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.
  3. Roll the dough out on a slightly floured surface. Use a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut out donuts. Each should be 1/2-inch thick. I think you could easily go up to a 3-inch biscuit cutter for slightly larger donuts without much trouble. Place the cut donuts on a baking sheet covered with wax paper and a little flour, cover, and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.
  4. In a medium size pot heat the cream until almost boiling. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Pour a few tablespoons of the hot cream into the eggs, whisking to incorporate. This will temper the egg mixture (warming it up so the eggs don't cook too quickly). Pour the egg mixture into the warm cream pot, whisking as you pour. Cook over medium/low heat, whisking the whole time, for 2-3 minutes. The mixture will thicken into a thin custard. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Allow this to cool to room temperature. If you find that you have a few lumps in your custard, curse yourself for not being perfect. Just kidding. I had a few lumps too. Just strain through a fine mesh sieve and no one will be the wiser. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. To avoid having a custard skin form over the top be sure to press the plastic wrap right onto the warm custard before refrigerating.
  5. Back to the donuts. After the second rise you can fill a large, heavy duty pot with 2-3 inches of oil. Heat to around 350°F. I like to use a candy thermometer to monitor my oil but it's not totally necessary. You can simply test oil with a scrap piece of dough before cooking.
  6. Once the oil is ready place a few donuts in the oil. After about 30 seconds flip each donut. Most of mine flipped on their own as they start to puff up in the oil. Others needed a little extra help. After flipping let them cook another 30-40 seconds. Then remove to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.
  7. Once these are cool enough to handle, fill them with the custard. At first I tried this with a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. This proved to be very difficult to maneuver as the custard is less firm than frosting. I then switched to using a squirt bottle (like you use for royal frosting) and that was MUCH easier. Lesson: Use a squirt bottle.
  8. If you want to stop right here and just eat a few of these I won't tell. I'm not even telling on myself. Pretty good secret keeper, no?
  9. Dip the tops of the donuts in super fine sugar. You can use regular, granulated sugar but super fine works best in brûlée recipes as it will caramelize faster. I own a kitchen torch. But, I realize lots of people don't and don't really want to make the investment. The recipe I was following suggested just sticking these under the broiler for a few seconds to brulee the tops, so I gave that a try.

Recipe Notes

Here's the thing with the broiler. It won't brulee everything evenly. So you will end up with a few burnt edges while at the same time getting a few perfect centers and then a few that just won't be done. If you want perfect tops get a kitchen torch. If you don't mind imperfection just use the broiler. In my attempt to get as close to perfect as I could with a broiler, I ended up with a few more toasty edges than I would have liked. Still delicious though, kind of like burnt popcorn.

Credits // Author and photos by: Emma Chapman

  • Hi Emma! I made these just today! Yes they were tricky but like you said, totally worth it! I had never even made donuts before but now i will try to perfect them! Thank you so much for the recipe and all the help! You inspire me to be creative and learn new things!
    -Chloe (age 17)

  • Here in brazil we call this SONHO or in english ‘dream’…
    Sonho is a traditional brazilian bread, you can find in all bakeries.

    : )

  • Hi Joana

    In Portugal, they are part of our delicious pastry tradition and we called them “Bolas de Berlim” (Berlin Balls) most probably inspired by the “Berliner Pfannkuchen” 🙂
    Ana

  • I’ve never even HEARD of a creme brulee donut before! Amazing!

    Bailey
    http://akabailey.blogspot.com

  • I hear you. 🙂 My first apartment (after college) didn’t have an oven too. Just a hot plate and a toaster oven. Those were more challenging cooking days indeed. 🙂

    -Emma

  • you should definitely do a topic for students, made of easy recipes. i actually don’t even have an oven and i am always reading your appetizing posts with so much envy!

  • it looks amazing, i saw this and think of y’all:
    http://www.lovefoodeat.com/red-wine-chocolate-cake-100-whole-wheat-vegan-refined-sugar-free/

  • Oh my goodness! You’ve made my mouth water just looking at these. Can’t wait to try them this weekend for Thanksgiving! I’ll be sure to post how they came out! Delish!!

    jamiesfunny.com

  • I always go for the creme brulee at any restaurant.You gotta love breaking into that sugar on top.

    Vintagehoneybee.blogspot.com

  • Gasp! These goes into my holiday lazy day and movie marathon weekend! Hohoho. That was a moutful. 🙂 This is perfect for girl bondings with sister. 🙂

    http://annescribblesanddoodles.blogspot.com/

  • Oh my YUM! I must make these… soon. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I LOVE creme Brulee…. you just can’t go wrong!

  • IF you want to ship those over to my house, feel free. 🙂

    http://petitemaisonoffashion.blogspot.com

  • umm, yum! and i thought the regular jam doughnut I got in Lidl today was good! I’d love to try making them one day, they do look scary though!

  • Creme brûlée and donuts are my favorite two sweet things on earth, this combination is heavenly! xx

    http://www.creativityandchocolate.com

  • They look awesomely good !!! Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂

    http://www.houseofglitters.blogspot.com

  • Those filllings look amazing!

    http://talisatalksbeauty.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/christmas-gift-guide-stocking-fillers.html

  • mmm… they look delicious! Creme Brûlée is one of my favourite desserts too!
    xx,
    E.
    www.theslowpace.com

  • ummmmm yes please!!

    http://allthingsprettyandlittle.blogspot.com/

  • Next time you gals are in NYC get the creme brûlée donuts at doughnut plant. To. Die. For.

  • Be still my heart! Wowza. Those look amazing! I’ll take an entire plateful, please. Thanks for the tutorial!

    http://sometimesgracefully.com

  • These look absolutely amazing. I know what I’m making two weeks from tomorrow to celebrate the end of my undergrad!

    Marley
    -for all my blogs visit http://marljust.wordpress.com

  • This looks so delicious! Thinking about doing it as xmass sweets! 🙂

    http://andreavytlacilova.com/

  • Oh myyyyyyy! What have you done! Don’t you know I have a bridesmaid dress to fit into this saturday!

    http://cuddlyasacactus.wordpress.com/

  • These look amazing for chanukah. I want one!! (or 2 or 3;))

    www.asequinloveaffair.com

  • Is it a sin if I’ve never tried creme brule? I can definitely feel like I’m missing out on something great. These look divine!

    M.

  • I want to eat these donuts while drinking Southern Tier Creme Brulee. That sounds like pure heaven.

  • yum!
    p.s. you are right in time for hannukah where there is a tradition of eating donuts with filling (sufganiyot)- usually jelly and deep-fried but this looks like a great alternative!

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