It’s taken me over four years, but I’ve finally made it to 300 posts!! To celebrate, I wanted to make something special, and what better than doughnuts! I’ve gained quite the reputation these days as the ‘Doughnut Queen,’ which I have no qualms with, especially when it inspires me to come up with a combination such as this one.
The idea of a popcorn-flavoured doughnut came to me a few months ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Popcorn has been popping up (pardon the pun) in desserts all over the place in the last few years, which I think is great. I love the slightly salty flavour it brings to a sweet dish, and I’ll never forget the popcorn ice cream we had at Vasse Felix.
I know it’s a big call, but I think these are some of the best doughnuts I’ve ever made! I infused the custard with popcorn, with some salted butter whisked through at the end. And yes, in case you’re wondering, it really does taste as good as it sounds. I loved the buttery custard, and it carried the popcorn flavour really well, but I think my favourite part was the slight crunch of caramel that coated the top of the doughnuts. I ate way too many of these, much to the despair of my waistline.
The recipe below looks really long, but the custard can be made ahead of time to save time on the day. As with all doughnuts, these taste best on the day that they’re made.
I also wanted to say a quick but heartfelt thanks to all of my readers for all of your visits and comments that have inspired me along the way and made the last 300 posts not only possible, but ridiculously fun! I’m looking forward to the next 300! xox
Popcorn Custard (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 cup cream
• 2 cups butter popcorn
• 6 large egg yolks
• ½ cup sugar
• 1/3 cup cornflour
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• 3 ½ tablespoons butter, cut into bits at room temperature
Doughnuts (adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
• 125ml (1/2 cup) pouring cream
• 60ml (1/4 cup milk)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 225g (1 ½ cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• 1 tablespoon dried yeast
• 30g caster sugar
• Vegetable oil for deep frying
• 1 cup caster sugar
• 2 tablespoons water
• ¼ cup butter popcorn, finely crumbled
To make the popcorn custard, bring the milk and cream to the boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the popcorn, cover and allow to infuse for 45 minutes. Reheat to just before boiling point before continuing.
Meanwhile, in a large heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, pour about ¼ cup of the milk mixture through a sieve into the egg yolks – this will temper or warm the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk through the sieve. Pour back into the saucepan and place over a medium heat, and whisking vigorously and constantly (making sure to get into the edges of the pot) bring the mixture to a boil.
Keep at a boil, still whisking for 1-2 minutes until thickened, then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla and salt, and let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape into a bowl and press a plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal. Refrigerate until cold. It can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
For the doughnuts, combine cream, milk and vanilla in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until lukewarm (30 seconds – 1minute). Meanwhile, combine flour, yeast, sugar and a pinch of fine salt in a large bowl. Add cream mixture and stir to combine. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is soft and smooth. Transfer to a lighly oiled bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (35-40 minutes).
Knock back the dough and roll out on a floured surface to 2cm thick. Cut out 5cm circles, place on trays lined with baking paper, cover with a clean towel and stand for 30 minutes or until risen. Preheat oil in a deep fryer or deep-sided saucepan to 180°C (350°F). Deep fry zeppole in batches, turning occasionally until golden and cooked through (3-4 minutes). Drain on paper towel and allow to cool slightly.
Place custard into a syringe or piping bag and pipe custard into the center of each doughnut, being careful not to overfill.
To finish, place caster sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, without stirring, until sugar dissolves. Swirl pan to colour evenly for about 5 minutes or until syrup is amber in colour. Remove from the heat.
Working quickly and carefully (as caramel is very hot and caramel burns hurt!) dip the tops of the doughnuts into the caramel using tongs. Place on baking paper and quickly sprinkle with crumbled popcorn. Allow caramel to set and serve immediately.