Makes about 12
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 3 hours
for the chocolate cake doughnut batter:
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour plus 1 cup
¾ cup Dutch cocoa powder
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
12 large egg yolks
for the vanilla cream glaze:
3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
for the eclair crumbs:
3 cups finely crushed Nilla Wafers
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder
1. Make the batter: Whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
2. Combine the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. You can certainly use a hand mixer or sturdy whisk, instead.
3. Mix on low speed until ribbons start to form in the mixture and the color lightens, about 3 minutes. Slowly stream in the melted butter until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.
4. Add the buttermilk all at once. Mix again just to combine, about 5 seconds.
5. Add the flour cocoa powder mixture to the mixer all at once on low speed until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again on medium-low until the dough looks smooth and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 20 to 30 seconds.
6. Prepare a counter work space by fastening a large piece of parchment paper with tape at the corners. Have 1 cup of the flour nearby to use as needed. Generously flour the work surface.
7. Scrape down the paddle attachment and turn all of the batter out onto the floured surface. Dust the top of the dough with more flour, sprinkling the edges as well. Flour your hands well, too.
8. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a ½-inch- thick rectangle. Brush the excess flour off the dough and parchment paper with a pastry brush. Transfer the dough on the paper to the back of a baking sheet and slide into the freezer for up to 30 minutes.
9. We use two sizes of ring cutters to make our doughnut shapes, the larger about 2 ½ inches in diameter and a 1-inch cutter for the holes. (Feel free to use a drinking glass and shot glass). Flour the cutters well and often to prevent sticking. Begin with the large cutter, then the smaller holes. Return the baking sheet with the dough holes to the freezer until ready to fry. (At this point the rings can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the freezer for up to 2 days. Let thaw slightly before frying.)
10. The dough scraps can be gathered and rerolled, or cut into small irregular shapes and fried as they are.
11. Clip a candy or deep frying thermometer onto one side of a big enameled cast-iron pot and add 2-3 inches canola or peanut oil. Heat over medium-low heat until the oil reaches 375° F.
12. Carefully lift the dough rings with the spatula and slide them into the oil, about 4 at a time, depending on the size of your pot. After about 90 seconds, the edges will begin to brown; flip the doughnuts with a slotted spoon. Fry for another 90 seconds until golden brown and delightfully puffy. (Doughnut holes take about 60-90 seconds and tend to flip themselves.) With a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts on a rack set over a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Reheat the oil to 375° F before cooking the next batch.
13. Let the doughnuts cool.
14. Make the crumbs: Mix 2 cups of the Nilla Wafer crumbs, half the butter, and 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt in a large bowl until all the butter is absorbed by the crumbs.
15. Into a separate bowl, place remaining wafer crumbs, remaining butter, remaining salt and the cocoa powder and mix well. Let cool so the cocoa powder does not “bleed” into the white crumbs. Combine the contents of both bowls and mix well.
16. Make the glaze: Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth and follow the steps to glazing perfection, glazing the entire doughnut.
Steps to Glazing Perfection
1. Improvise a double boiler by adding about 2 inches of water to a saucepan and setting it over medium heat. Bring the water to a simmer.
2. Place a bowl of glaze over the saucepan and heat through. Use your fingertips to glaze each cooled doughnut.
3. Hold the bottom of the doughnut with your fingertips and submerge the top in warm glaze a little more than halfway up the sides.
4. Remove the doughnut from the glaze, and with a twist of the wrist, turn in right side up. Allowing the excess glaze to wrap around the sides and bottom of the doughnut.
5. Cool the glazed doughnuts on a cooling rack set-over a paper towel lined baking sheet until the glaze is dry, about 10 minutes.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: THIS RECIPE HAS BEEN REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR FROM FEDERAL DONUTS: THE (PARTIALLY) TRUE SPECTACULAR STORY.