Friday, January 4, 2013

A 'Hole' Lotta Fun with Mini Donuts {Book Review}

A cookbook review of...
Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your "Hole" Day
by Jessica Segarra

Jessica Segarra is the creator of The Novice Chef blog. She describes herself as "not an actual chef, since chefs go to school." She asserts, instead, that she is "a trial and error, self taught, sugar addict who wants to share all of her recipes through pictures and stories with the world." Me, too! 

Well, the 'trial and error' part and the 'not an actual chef' certainly apply. 'Sugar addict' I am not; give me a bag of chips any ol' day. The whole bag. But I am always game for some culinary adventures, so I eagerly signed on to make some donuts with Jessica's recipes.

Before I even received the package from Megan, culinary maven behind The Country Cleaver blog, I used a gift certificate I had to acquire a donut baking pan. Much to my dismay, I selected the wrong sized pan. Ugh. Mine had larger hollows and would make small donuts versus minis. But a few tweets later - with both Megan and Jessica -  I learned that I could use the pan I bought by simply extending the baking time. Sweet!

When my copy of the book arrived, I went to work, creating my very own donut stand for the day. If I had to distill this cookbook into one word, it would be fun...oodles and oodles of fun. Sugary, adorable fun.

Jessica's book is divided into eight chapters with 100 original recipes. "The Classics" include Buttermilk Mini Donuts, Maple-Glazed Mini Donuts, and even the festive Vanilla-Sprinkle Mini Donut. The two chocolate creations that caught my eye in the second chapter, "Chocolate x 2", were her Devil's Food Mini Donuts and the Chocolate-Bacon-Maple Mini Donuts. In "Fruity" the Clementine Cream Mini Donut recipe had me humming: oh, my darlin', oh, my darlin', oh, my darlin' Clementine!

Chapter 4, "Donuts of the Stars", was jam-packed with celebrity-inspired creations including 'The Elvis', a peanut butter and banana mini donut; 'The Curious George: Banana Cream Mini Donut'; and 'The Bugs Bunny', a carrot cake mini donut with a cinnamon-scented cream cheese frosting. The three chapters - "Bakery Special", "Candy-Aisle Donuts", and "For the Kid in You" - all made my teeth hurt just reading the recipes. But if you are, like Jessica, a self-proclaimed sugar addict. Have at it. My favorite chapter, bar none, was chapter 7: "Drinks to Donuts". No surprise there.

My strategy to select a few recipes to try completely backfired. I asked my usual taste-testers and, of the four adults and three kids I polled, no one picked the same donuts. So, I opted to do a choose-your-own-adventure style donut, using a single cake base and a single glaze, but providing a variety of toppings. With one batch, I was able to satisfy the family cravings for plain dark chocolate (Jake), Mexican hot chocolate (Riley), Rocky Road (Dylan), and a chocolate + bacon (me).

Here's what we made...

The Chocolate Donut
Mini Donuts's Dark Chocolate-Ganache Mini Donut recipe

(This made 15 small donuts.)
1 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t baking powder
1 egg
1/2 C organic granulated sugar
3/4 C organic milk
2 T safflower oil
2 T organic sour cream
1/2 t pure vanilla extract

Whisk everything together in a mixing bowl. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the hollows of your baking dish. Fill the hollows three-quarters of the way up. Bake for 13 minutes. Let cool slightly then invert onto a wire cooling rack.

The Ganache
Mini Donuts's Dark Chocolate-Ganache Mini Donut recipe

3 oz dark dark chocolate, chipped
1/2 C organic heavy cream
2 T organic granulated sugar
1 T butter

Place everything except for the cream in a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Pour the cream into the mixing bowl, making sure that the chocolate is completely submerged. Let sit for 3 minutes. Whisk till smooth. Cool for at least 10 minutes before dipping your donuts. Place on a wire rack over parchment paper to catch any drips.

The Variations

Mexican Hot Chocolate = Dark Chocolate-Ganache Mini Donuts + Mini Marshmallows + Ground Cinnamon + Ground Ancho Chili Powder

Rocky Road = Dark Chocolate-Ganache Mini Donuts + Mini Marshmallows + Raw Pecan Pieces

Sweet and Salty Piggy = Dark Chocolate-Ganache Mini Donuts + Applewood Bacon Bits + Freshly Ground Sugar + Freshly Ground Sea Salt

Does this look like a 'hole' lotta fun? It was! Thanks, Jessica, for penning such an inspirational cookbook, chock-full of recipes. Almost too many recipes. But it just means that I'll have to make another batch soon. Thanks, Megan, for the complimentary copy. I had a blast and look forward to many more variations of the mini donut in the future.

*Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book - Mini Donuts by Jessica Segarra for the purpose of reviewing it. All opinions are my own.*

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