RICOTTA DONUTS

 

If watching too much TV has taught me anything, it's that cleaning the oven, doing your taxes and making souffles are a bitch, and that's why I've never attempted to do any of those things. Unfortunately, my oven is in quite a state at the moment. An incident involving a leaky baking tray and cheesey potato bake has left the bottom of my oven floor covered in a film of oil, and whenever I try to bake something, it imparts a smokey flavour into the baking, which I just don't love. Instead of cleaning the oven, I've decided to leave it there until the next time I absolutely must use it.

In the meantime, these deep fried donuts are satisfying my needs for baked goods. The secret ingredient (apart from the deep fried) is ricotta. You can use yoghurt or sour cream instead but I like the texture the ricotta gives most. You can fill these with just about anything you like or eat them just as they are - they're delicious either way. 

ricotta donuts with creme patissiere

These are incredibly easy to make but you must, must, must use a thermometer. I have tried these sans thermometer and all if left me with was a few good donuts, and many burnt ones that weren't cooked inside. Don't make my mistakes.

DEEP FRIED RICOTTA DONUTS
(makes about 15)
adapted from a cup of jo

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
250gm of ricotta
Canola oil, for frying
Icing sugar, to dust

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl. Add sugar, salt, eggs, ricotta, vanilla, and lemon zest, and mix until combined. 
  2. Fill a deep, heavy pot, with canola oil (leaving at least 5cm space at the top) and heat the oil over medium heat until a thermometer reads 165˚C. 
  3. Using a cookie dough scoop, drop scoops of batter into the oil. Only fry a few at a time and make sure to leave enough space for the donuts to move around. It should take 4-5 minutes to cook and should be golden brown all over. Remove a test donut from the pot and cut in half to double check it is cooked inside. 
  4. Deep fry the rest of the batter and let the donuts rest on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil. 
  5. Dust with icing sugar.
  6. If filling with caramel, use a sharp knife to poke a hole at the top of each donut 3/4 of the way deep. Swivel the knife around to make a hole for the caramel sauce.
  7. Remove (or eat) any loose cake from the insides of the donuts.
  8. Fill a piping bag with the caramel and gently fill each donut with the caramel sauce. 
 
 
 

CARAMEL CRACK SLICE

 

I hate walnuts, but you'd never be able to tell if you saw me eating some of this slice. That's how good it is. 

If I had to choose my favourite baking recipe, this would be it. It's basically a decadent caramel slice with candied walnuts on top. First you start with a crumbly, buttery, shortbread base. Follow this with silky and rich caramel. Then with a thin lick of chocolate. And finally, finish it off with crunchy, sweet, salty, candied walnuts. So many textures, so much perfection. Be warned, it's addictive. 

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL SLICE WITH CANDIED WALNUTS
AKA 'CRACK SLICE'
adapted from jasonandshawnda

For the shortbread: 
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp icing sugar
115 grams butter, cold, cubed
1 egg yolk, beaten

For the filling:
1 can of dulce de leche or caramel (I used homemade dulce de leche*)
2 cups walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
Pinch of salt 

For the chocolate:
125 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped
35 grams butter

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C and line a square baking tin with baking paper (I used a 21.5cm x 21.5cm tin).
  2. To make the crust, mix dry ingredients in food processor, add butter and pulse until coarse.
  3. Add beaten egg yolk and pulse until ball of dough is formed.
  4. Press dough into baking tin and prick with a fork.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes until golden, rotating halfway through.
  6. Cool to room temperature and then fill with caramel. 
  7. For the candied walnuts, put sugar, water and salt in a saucepan and cook on medium/high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  8. Continue to cook until the sugar starts to colour.
  9. Add walnuts, stir to coat with the sugar (if the sugar mixture starts to turn white, keep stirring until it turns back to caramel colour).
  10. Pour onto baking paper and spread apart as quickly as possible.
  11. Once cooled, chop into small pieces and spread half of the walnuts onto the caramel.
  12. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of barely simmering water (making sure water does not touch the bottom of the bowl).
  13. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
  14. Pour chocolate over the caramel filling and scatter the rest of the candied walnuts on top.
  15. Leave in the fridge to set for 3 hours before cutting into squares. I like to leave mine in a container in the fridge so the caramel remains firm. 
     

*I used homemade dulce de leche for this, or alternatively you can use Nestle canned caramel. They taste similar but the dulce de leche is definitely more delicious and easier to spread. 

 

 

OOEY GOOEY CHOCOLATE CARAMEL MUFFINS

 

A couple of months ago, on a quest for something sweet, I whipped together a batch of chocolate muffins with a molten caramel filling that oozed out the centre when bitten in half. Recently when pictures of my baking started floating around on Instagram, I received a tonne of requests for the recipe. What I have been hiding and am only now ready to admit is that the caramel shamefully came from an unlabelled silver packet lying in the back of the pantry since ages ago. Shameful because mostly a) I didn't make it myself and secretly b) because I have no idea where to get my hands on another pack. So anyway, there began my heartbreaking journey to recreate a recipe for these ooey gooey caramel muffins.

I had the muffin recipe down, but the caramel part turned out to be an unexpected, crazy science experiment. I tried canned caramel, dulce de leche, bottled caramel sauce and four different recipes for homemade caramel. None of them worked! Although still edible, both the canned caramel and dulce de leche were too dense, sinking into a thick glob at the bottom of each muffin, and the other caramels were too thin and dissolved into the muffin once baked. By this time I'd run out of sugar and flour, every surface of my kitchen was littered with muffins that had been split in half and/or picked at and nibbled on, and I had a litre of leftover caramel that would sustain me for a year of ice-cream desserts. My last desperate attempt was to try caramel candies, which I'd read online might work. I tried out two brands, Cadbury and Werther's Originals; the Cadbury caramels, like the homemade caramel sauces, disappointingly melted and merged into the muffins, but when I split open the muffin containing the Werther's Originals (a moment comparable to Moses splitting the Red Sea) I very nearly cried. It had worked. If it weren't for the risk of burning your tongue, you could easily slurp out the caramel from the middle - it was ooey and most definitely gooey, and to top it all off, it was bloody delicious. 

I am, however, still convinced that there is a recipe out there for the perfect homemade caramel that will yield a beautiful muffin with a runny caramel centre. If anyone has any ideas, please share with me! In the meantime, enjoy this recipe using caramel candies - it's good, I promise!

OOEY GOOEY CHOCOLATE CARAMEL MUFFINS:
(makes 12)

150 grams butter at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
160 grams sour cream
1/4 cup milk
24 caramel chews (I used Werther's Originals)

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C and line a muffin tray.
  2. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and creamy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined.
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa, and roughly mix into the creamy mixture. The batter will be very thick at this stage.
  5. Add the sour cream and mix until just combined.
  6. Add the milk and mix until smooth.
  7. Spoon mixture into muffin cases until they are about two thirds full.
  8. Place two caramel chews in the centre of each muffin case and lightly push into the batter to secure it in place (don't push the caramels down to the bottom).
  9. Divide the rest of the batter among the muffin cases, making sure that the caramels are covered. 
  10. Bake for 20 minutes.

The muffins are best eaten warm when the caramel is still lovely and gooey. Once cooled the caramel will begin to harden like toffee so just pop one in the microwave for 20 seconds before eating!