Rain and Rhubarb: Spring Doughnuts with Double Rhubarb White Chocolate Cream

Yesterday, as the rain pattered on my windowpanes and two little toddler feet pattered on my hardwood floors, I made some doughnuts.

I say it like it’s no big deal, and it really isn’t.  If doughnuts intimidate you, I think it’s time to swallow back your fear of vats of extremely hot oil and just let these beauties into your life.  The vanilla-scented sugar crystals melting on your tongue while rhubarb cream dribbles down your chin will reward you for your efforts.

Double Rhubarb White Chocolate filled doughnuts | www.purplehousecafe.com

Let me show you how easy gourmet doughnuttery can be.  You’ll thank me:  because these doughnuts paired with a pink sparkly wine on a rainy day will bring a smile to your face, and because gourmet doughnuts are totally the next big thing.

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But first!

I had visited my my local Farmer’s Market – the Halifax Seaport Market – on Saturday because a) I usually do and b) there’s a contest, you see.  The Halifax Food Bloggers are participating in a contest this month to create an original recipe using primarily ingredients sourced from the Seaport Market (the only exceptions being things like flour, yeast, oil, and some seasonings).  I went in search of inspiration, with some pre-conceived notions in my head about maybe some ground lamb for Greek-inspired nachos, my little recipe generator, whom I affectionately anthropomorphize as a mouse on a wheel (can you anthropomorphize something as a mouse?) toiling away, fantasizing about new flavour combinations, often (and my hubby will attest) in the middle of the night, or during important conversations.  And in the shower.

But I digress.

I left the market with a basket not full of ground lamb but of the first rhubarb of the spring from Noggins Corner Farm; a bottle of Ironworks Distillery Rhubarb Esprit liqueur; barley flour, raw sugar and vanilla beans from The Grainery Food Co-op, white chocolate from Gourmandises Avenue Chocolaterie; and eggs and goat milk from Ran-Cher Acres.  And, of course, a bottle of Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7 sparkling wine to go with.  Because who says doughnuts need to go with coffee?

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Double rhubarb white chocolate cream filled doughnuts, fried ever so briefly to give them a little bite and deep golden colour, and then tossed in vanilla bean-scented sugar.  From ingredients that you can find at the local farmer’s market – which means that they taste even better because they support local business.

Are you sufficiently motivated to make doughnuts with me now?

These little babies require about a total of an hour of hands-on time.  I managed it while entertaining a 16 month old and washing a gargantuan pile of dishes.  You can do it too!  Because they’re yeasted doughnuts, mostly they require you waiting around for them to rise.  The pastry cream is a little high maintenance, but oh-so-worth-it.  Just pour yourself a glass of that sparkling, pull a stool up to the stove and get lost in the stirring.  It’s like kitchen meditation, and I highly recommend it.

Here’s what you need:

For the doughnuts –

  • 2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp. warm water
  • 1 3/4 cups barley flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1 cup whole milk at room temperature (I used goat milk)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ~6 cups vegetable oil for frying

For the pastry cream –

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup whole milk (I used goat milk)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chunks
  • 2 tbsp. butter

For the rhubarb – 

  • ~3 stalks of rhubarb (approximately 1-1.5 cups)
  • Water
  • 1/4 cup sugar (more if you dislike rhubarb’s tartness)
  • 2 tbsp. rhubarb liquor

For the vanilla sugar –

  • 1 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean

Here’s what you do:

For the doughnuts – 

I think it makes sense to start the doughnuts first – that way you can make the stewed rhubarb and pastry cream while they rise.  But, by all means, you can make the rhubarb and pastry cream the night before.

Add the yeast to the warm water in a large bowl and allow the yeast to proof (to foam up) for about five minutes.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients, forming a shaggy dough.  Use your hands to fully incorporate the ingredients  – don’t knead, just make sure you end up with a uniform ball of dough.  It will be a little sticky.  You can add a bit more flour if it’s too sticky to handle.

Dust the dough with some flour, cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1.5-2 hours.  Now’s a good time to get busy with the pastry cream and the rhubarb.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured countertop and roll into a 1/2″ thick disc using a floured rolling pin.  Using a glass or a cookie cutter, cut circles ~3″ in diameter.  Note:  if you re-roll the scrap dough to make more doughnuts, these will turn out a little “tougher.”  And uglier.  But still tasty.  Go for it!

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Place the circles on a flour-dusted cookie sheet, cover with a dish towel and set aside to rise again for 30 minutes.

*See below for frying instructions, and how to bring it all together!

For the rhubarb – 

Roughly chop the rhubarb and throw it into a sauce pan with the sugar.  Add enough water to not quite cover the rhubarb.  Place the mixture over medium heat and allow to simmer until the rhubarb has disintegrated and much of the liquid is cooked off.  Stir in the rhubarb liquor and allow to cool and before adding to the pastry cream.

For the pastry cream – 

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, stirring them for a few seconds until they are well combined and slightly lighter in colour.  Whisk in the flour and salt.  Now whisk the milk in, ensuring that you incorporate it in small increments to avoid creating lumps.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir nearly continuously until the cream begins to thicken.  When bubbles start to steam up in the cream and it achieves the consistency of pudding, remove from the heat and stir in the white chocolate and butter until they melt.  Transfer the cream to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap is in contact with the cream.  Place in the refrigerator to cool completely – about 2 hours.

For the vanilla sugar – 

Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into a large bowl containing the sugar.  Use your fingers to combine the sugar and the vanilla beans.

Putting the whole thing together – 

Pour 2-2 1/2 inches (~6 cups) of vegetable oil into a large pot and heat on high until it reaches 350F.  Don’t have a deep fry or candy thermometer?  Yeah, I hear ya.  If not, just place the handle of a wooden spoon or chopstick into the oil.  When that causes the oil to bubble steadily, it’s at the right temperature (note:  if it boils really vigorously or even splashes, it’s too hot!).

Using a slotted spoon, fry the doughnuts two at a time (to avoid sticking), 1 minute on each side or until deep brown.  When they finish frying, give them a quick dunk in the oil and transfer quickly to the bowl of sugar.  Toss to coat in sugar and transfer to a paper towel to cool.  Return oil to 350F between each pair of doughnuts.

Double Rhubarb Cream-filled Doughnuts | www.purplehousecafe.com

Using the handle of a spoon, poke a little hole in the side of each doughnut.  Be careful how you handle them – you don’t want to knock all the sugar off.

Gently stir your cooled pastry cream and cooled rhubarb mix together.  Taste it.  Good eh?  Now try to restrain yourself as you dump the rhubarb cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip.  Insert the tip of the pastry bag into the hole you’ve made in the doughnut and fill with cream.

Stop laughing.

Double Rhubarb Cream-Filled Doughnuts | www.purplehousecafe.com

Pour yourself a teacup full of sparkling pink wine and enjoy!  Or, you know, share with some friends.

11 comments on “Rain and Rhubarb: Spring Doughnuts with Double Rhubarb White Chocolate Cream

  1. I am definitely going to try these at home. Seems easy enough. So worth the little extra effort. I mean if you are going to commit to eating a doughnut (a commitment that for me comes at the cost of an extra 30-40 mins at the gym!) a delicious Rhubarb Cream filled gourmet doughnut wins hands down over a way-too-sweet-and-pasty Boston Cream from Tims IMHO. Good luck on the contest Jess.

  2. Inspirational! I can almost taste them by sight and story!

    Margo

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  3. Yumma! These look divine! Maybe a nice treat to make next Sunday after the Bluenose!! You’ve totally inspired me! Oh and the bottle..I mean, glass of vino is a lovely addition! :)

  4. ummm…instead of me making them…I think you should make them for me :)… Look oh so amazingly good! Posting on the Taste of Nova Scotia website right now!

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