For someone who writes a baking blog, I don’t eat as many sweets as you might think. Oh, sure, I sample along the way as I create (don’t worry–I’m not just “winging it” with my recipes!), but it pretty much stops there. Maybe it’s because I used to own a bakery, where I got used to being around mountains of decadent brownies, cookies, cakes and pies all day long and, as a result, my willpower multiplied ten-thousand times. Maybe the reason is similar to the “Thanksgiving dinner effect”: you spend so much time around the food–shopping, prepping, chopping, mixing, baking and cleaning–that when all is plated and ready to eat you kind of just want to sit, rest and watch others devour (and hopefully ask for seconds.)
Eric’s not a big sweets eater either, so I learned a long time ago to not be offended when he passes by my glorious newly iced Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake without so much as a glance. If it was a pizza, well, that’s another story. He could be at the other end of the house, or probably clear across town, but his pizza radar would let him know if a freshly baked pepperoni pie had just emerged from the oven.
As with everything, there is an exception to this “we’re not really dessert people” rule to which we generally adhere. For Eric, that exception is key lime pie. It is a rare occasion that he passes up any variation of this treat on a restaurant dessert menu, even if he has just polished off an entire rack of ribs and a plate of fries (I’m telling you, it’s a good thing he runs marathons.)
For me, that exception is doughnuts. Well, it’s really two things, ice cream and doughnuts, but for the purposes of this blog post, let’s just go with doughnuts, okay? If I started waxing poetic about ice cream right now, then I wouldn’t have a good segue into my recipe.
I’ve loved a good doughnut ever since I had my first Munchkin’, which seemed to be a school party staple back in the day. I especially love the ones that are glazed or iced–ones that are freshly baked but the glaze/icing has had time to set and form that slightly crunchy sweet coat. Mmmm…. you’re craving one now, aren’t you?
Well, you’re in luck! This recipe is the perfect juxtaposition of Eric’s favorite key lime pie and my favorite doughnuts. The yeasty raised doughnuts are filled with a creamy key lime custard, and the tops are dipped in a sweet coconut glaze and sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs. I mean, come on!! The best part is that they make perfect sense for breakfast and dessert!
These golden, yeasty, custard-filled doughnuts were inspired by my husband's favorite dessert: key lime pie! A tart and creamy lime custard serves as the filling, and the tops are dipped in a sweet coconut glaze and sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs. Pie for breakfast? Indeed!
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) granulated sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) cornstarch
- Finely grated zest from 2 key limes (see note, below)
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) fresh or bottled key lime juice
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 cup (250 mL) whole milk
- 2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
- 3 (1/4 oz / 7g) packages active dry yeast
- 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) whole milk, warmed to 110F/45C
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) plus one large pinch granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
- 4-1/2 - 5 cups (1.125 - 1.25 L) all purpose flour
- 3 cups (750 mL) confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
- 2 tsp (10 mL) coconut extract
- 1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp (90 mL) coconut milk
- Canola oil for frying
- 1 cup (250 mL) graham cracker crumbs
- In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar, yolks, cornstarch and zest until combined and smooth. Add the lime juice, butter, milk and vanilla, whisking until blended.
- Set the saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly until butter has melted and the mixture comes to a low simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the custard has thickened, 3-4 minutes more.
- Transfer the custard to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill.
- Combine the yeast, milk and pinch of sugar in a medium bowl; stir to blend. Let the mixture rest until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining sugar with the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and the yeast mixture and beat until combined.
- On low speed, add 4-1/2 cups (1.125 mL) of the flour, about 1 cup (250 mL) at a time, mixing until incorporated before adding more. Switch to the dough hook on your mixer and mix on medium speed, adding the remaining flour in tablespoons (15 mL) if necessary, until the dough is smooth but still a bit tacky, about 3 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until it has doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a thickness of about 1/2-inch (1.25 cm.) Use a 3-inch (7.5 cm) round cutter to cut out rounds and place them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2-inches (5 cm) apart. Reroll scraps as necessary.
- Cover baking sheets loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doughnuts have doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare glaze.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioner's sugar, salt, coconut and vanilla extracts and coconut milk until smooth.
- Pour enough canola oil into a large saucepan until it is 2-inches (5 cm) deep. Heat the oil until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350F/180C.
- Working in batches, place the doughnuts in the oil (don't overcrowd them!) and fry until golden brown on one side, about 45 seconds. Carefully turn the doughnuts and fry until golden on the second side, 45-60 seconds more. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the doughnuts to a paper towel-lined tray to drain and repeat with remaining doughnuts.
- Transfer the chilled key lime custard to a pastry bag (see note) fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Use a small paring knife or a skewer to make a hole through the center for the filling. Working with one doughnut at a time, pipe about 2 tbsp (10 mL) filling into each center.
- Once the doughnuts are filled, dip the tops of the doughnuts into the coconut glaze, allowing excess to drip off. Sprinkle the tops of the doughnuts with graham cracker crumbs.
- Place doughnuts on wire racks until the glaze has set.
If you don't have key limes, just use the zest of one regular lime and regular lime juice. You can also make smaller doughnut holes with any leftover dough (see photos above.) If you don't have a pastry bag for piping the custard, you can always use a zip-top bag instead. Snip off a small corner and go for it!