It’s my BIRTHWEEK. This Saturday, I turn 28, which means I’m seriously deep in the throes of my late twenties. This year is the second latest of my twenties, in fact. And you know what people say about the late twenties! Nothing. BUT THAT’S OK. I’m still excited to celebrate the occasion, because honestly, I’m excited to celebrate any occasion. Who doesn’t love an excuse for a party, and the chance to shower gratitude and love over the people who make your life really worth celebrating? I do, I really do.
This year, I’m inviting some of my favorite peeps over for a Ladies Who Brunch, and throwing my very own Cook Gather Give. It’s an initiative put on by some rad magazines (including one of my faves, Cherry Bombe, a feminist food magazine – !!!! ), asking folks to give back this holiday season, and host friends for a meal in order to fundraise for a charity. Since I love using my birthday to guilt people into things, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to rally the ladies. My crew will be donating to Richmond Doula Project, a local organization that supports woman from marginalized communities throughout their pregnancy paths (including abortion support, which is amazing/so necessary). I chose this organization because I wanted to give back to my new home in Richmond, and celebrating women and life seemed fitting for my bday. (Thank you to my very dope friend Cheyenne for the recommendation!) I’m super pumped to combine food, justice, and ladies supporting ladies. It’s a birthday dream come true!
My birthday brunch spread wouldn’t be complete without birthday cake! And I prefer my cake deep fried. AKA we’re having donuts! Ok, it’s not cake, but it IS my birthday, so. I decided to recreate one of my favorite snacks from childhood (and adulthood, if we’re being honest): Krispy Kreme mini crullers. I love donuts so much. I once heard that doctors say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if you’re eating donuts for breakfast, please forget what we said about breakfast and just. don’t. do it. But I cannot resist rich dough, deep fried, and covered in sugar, cinnamon, glaze, and sprinkles. Do doctors know what they’re asking us to do? Prolly not. So I went ahead and made these crullers. You start with a pâte à choux, or choux paste–it’s just water, butter, flour and egg, melted and mixed together. Super simple, even though French words are super intimidating (tricksters!). Then you pipe them with a star tip, then you fry them, then you cover them with wonderful things (sugar, cinnamon, glaze, sprinkles, etc.). Easy, right? Great. Let’s go.
1 c water
1/2 c unsalted butter
3/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/4 c flour
4 large eggs
ginger + nutmeg
cocoa powder + cinnamon + cayenne
maple syrup + bourbon
- Fill a large, heavy bottomed pot with 3 inches of vegetable oil, and set over medium-low heat.
- Combine the water, butter, salt and sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat, until the butter has melted and the water is boiling. You can stir the butter to make sure it is melting at the same rate the water is heating, so it all melts and boils at the same time.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and add the flour, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until everything is combined. Bring the pan back to the burner, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. You want the flour to cook; you’ll know you’re done when the dough is one smooth ball that stays together well, and there is a film on the bottom of the pan.
- Plop the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer, and allow it to cool for a few minutes. You need it to be cool enough so that it won’t cook your eggs when you add them, so pretty warm but not piping hot is good.
- In the meantime, check your oil & get your parchment ready. You want the oil to be pretty close to frying temperature (360°F)*. Cut out 8 2-3″ squares of parchment paper, and set aside.
- Add eggs in one at a time, beating the mixture with a paddle attachment, and scraping the bowl between each addition. Beat for a few minutes after everything has been added.
- Transfer the paste to a large piping bag fitted with a star tip. I used a large closed star, although the open star is the more traditional choice for crullers.
- Pipe the paste in 1 1/2″ circles on your parchment squares. Use a slotted spoon to gently lower 4 donuts into your hot oil. When the bottom of the donuts have cooked, use tongs to remove the parchment paper. Fry the donuts until they are lightly browned all over, turning them once. Place on paper towel to drain the excess oil. Repeat until you’ve piped and fried all of your pastry dough. I like to pipe four donuts, get them in the oil, and then pipe four more so they’ll be ready to go in once the first batch is done.
- Top the donuts! If you are covering them with cinnamon sugar, you’ll want to do that while the donuts are still very warm. Place cinnamon and sugar in a ziplock bag, and toss the donuts in it. If you are glazing the donuts, let them cool for a few minutes. For the spiced vanilla glaze, I combined a cup of powdered sugar, a splash of milk, a tablespoon of ginger, a dash of nutmeg, and a tsp of vanilla. For the maple bourbon glaze, I simply used maple syrup, bourbon, and powdered sugar to make a thick glaze. For the mexican chocolate, combine 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2.5 tbsp cocoa, 2 tbsp milk, 1/8 tsp cayenne, and a dash of cinnamon.
*It’s best to use a candy thermometer for this. If you don’t have one, my favorite trick to use is a wooden spoon. When you put the spoon in the oil, rapid bubbles should start to form around it immediately.