I need to apologize to Giada. Apparently, I was so wrapped up in all of the festivities and goings-on that typically occur during the week following my birthday (in my dreams, that is), that I failed to wish my fellow Leo, Ms. DeLaurentiis a very happy 38th yesterday. While perusing one of my favorite web sites, Food Network Addict (which, as you might have guessed, humorously and candidly covers all things Food TV), I learned of Giada’s big day. It was hard to miss actually, what with the huge photo of the Everyday Italian host splashed across the screen. Clearly, the Food Network Addict himself is a big fan.
Giada takes quite a bit of heat for some of her mannerisms, which just goes with the territory of being a T.V. star, I suppose. For example, in the middle of a sentence, she’ll switch to an Italian accent to emphasize the relevance of using "par-mee-zhano rezh-ee-ano" in one of her recipes. I sometimes feel like I am getting a two-for-one when I watch her show, part instructional cooking, part Italian 101. The fact that she’s pretty and petite unfortunately makes her a target for criticism too: "Wait a minute. She’s good looking, slender, has her own T.V. show, AND she eats Italian food all day? Well! I just hate her!"
Say what you will about Giada, but I’ll be the first to defend her. I’ve tried many of her recipes, and the girl definitely knows what she is doing in the Italian cuisine department. Ideas from her show have inspired me multiple times to create new recipes through her use of ingredients and her simple yet attractive combinations. Plus, while her food is Italian, I don’t find it to be heavy, rich, or unhealthy (unlike the butter, cheese, and cream-drenched recipes of a certain southern lady, whom shall remain nameless). So, give the gal a break, at least during her birthday week.
I was planning to make jelly-filled dougnuts for today’s post, but in honor of Ms. Giada’s Italian heritage and her many, many desserts that include espresso, I decided to fill the pastries with a cappuccino-inspired cream and top them with a cocoa-cinnamon-sugar coating. It’s like having your coffee and doughnuts together–another two-for-one! Start these doughnuts the evening before you plan to serve them, as they need to rest in the refrigerator overnight. For those of you who have not previously made doughnuts, this version is easy to follow with five-star results, so this is a good place to start. Here are some extra tips for these Italian-inspired pastries:
- To make these doughnuts a little bit more kid-friendly, you can fill them with raspberry jam, chocolate pastry cream, sweetened whipped cream, or vanilla custard.
- These doughnuts can also be prepared without the filling. Cut a 1-inch circle out of the center of the 3-inch rounds of dough and then fry both the doughnuts and the doughnut holes. Roll them in the sugar coating after draining on paper towels.
- Be sure to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil when you are frying. If the oil is too hot, then the doughnuts will be undercooked on the insides and overdone on the outsides. Oil that is not hot enough with result in heavy, greasy doughnuts.
- Doughnuts can be prepared and filled up to 4 hours in advance. Store at room temperature, covered. The filling can be prepared and refrigerated up to one day in advance.
Cream-Filled Cappuccino Doughnuts
Makes about 2 dozen
For the topping
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
For the filling
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons espresso powder
2 cups whole milk
5 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the doughnuts
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm whole milk (about 110 degrees)
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
Canola oil for frying
Prepare the topping: Blend the sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour, and espresso powder. Gradually add the milk, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the yolks and the salt. Add the butter and cook over medium-high heat until the pastry cream thickens and boils, whisking constantly. Whisk in the vanilla and then transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling and chill until cold, about 4 hours.
Prepare the doughnuts: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Pour the warm milk over and stir to blend. Let the mixture stand until the yeast dissolves and the mixture bubbles, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cinnamon, espresso powder, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl to blend. Whisk the butter and eggs together in another medium bowl. Butter a large bowl.
Beat the butter-egg mixture into the yeast mixture on medium-low speed until well blended, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about 4 minutes. Beat in the flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, and then beat the dough until it is smooth and and beginning to pull away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Scrape the dough from the hook into the bowl and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to the buttered bowl (dough will be sticky), and turn the dough to coat with the butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Sprinkle 2 baking sheets lightly with flour. Gently press the dough to deflate. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/3-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-3 inch diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Transfer the rounds to floured sheets, spacing 2-inches apart. Gather the dough scraps, roll out, and cut more rounds, repeating until all of the dough is used up. Cover the dough rounds with towels and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into a deep skillet to 1 1/2-inch depth. Heat oil to between 360-370F degrees, testing with a deep fry thermometer. Fry 3 doughnuts at a time until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Dip both sides of warm doughnuts into topping and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Push the blade of a small sharp knife into the side of 1 doughnut about 3/4 of the way to the opposite side; remove knife. Insert the pastry bag tip into the slit and press in the filling until the center of the doughnut bulges. Return the doughnut to the rack and repeat with the remaining doughnuts.