Black and White Cookie Donuts (Baked!)

Food nostalgia is hitting pretty hard around here, lately.

Black and White donuts
Having lived my whole life in New Jersey (except for college in Pennsylvania – yeah, I went really far), I had no clue what to expect when I moved cross-country to San Diego in 2012. I knew I could probably ditch my winter coat and had prepared myself for Dunkin Donuts-withdrawal, but as far as the small stuff? I figured it couldn’t be that different. I mean, it was the same country after all.

But beyond the obvious lack-of-snow and lack-of-DD, over time I’ve realized there are a lot of little things I took for granted living in the NYC-metro area. Diners! Jersey bagels! Italian bakeries! Autumn leaves! Feeling a chill in the air! Of course I’d be foolish to ignore the wonderful attributes that Southern California has to offer – I wore a t-shirt and flip flops yesterday – but sometimes you just yearn for a taste of “home”, in the regional sense.

Einstein Bagels are good, Jersey bagels are in-freakin’-credible. Crisp outsides, super soft and chewy centers. Especially the cinnamon raisin ones. Typing this out just made me crave them BIG TIME. Bagels from Long Island (NY) also rank highly in the upper echelon of bagels as far as I’m concerned.

“Breakfast cafes” are nice, Jersey diners are better. Zero pretension, zero thought given to ambiance, zero qualms about ordering a turkey dinner with a cup of coffee for breakfast.

68°F in January is great, 27°F in January is…well, 68°F is just great, period. Moving on…

Italian bakeries. Cookies covered in chocolate chips that are as big as your head. Freshly-made cannoli shells (can we talk about how WordPress doesn’t think “cannoli” is a word?! For shame). Rainbow cookies (my ultimate, hands-down favorite). White cardboard boxes with red-and-white striped twine. Black-and-white cookies. Love.

For those in the know, you know why the list above is so special. Yes, everything is delicious, there’s no denying that. But looking back, I can remember that quintessential white bakery box in so many of my childhood memories. It was sitting beside me in the backseat of the car while we traveled to visit relatives on Christmas morning, it attended all of my birthday parties, it even received prime placement on our Thanksgiving table year after year. You know it has to be something special.

It’s been too long since I’ve had any of the above bakery treats, so I decided to satisfy my hankering for donuts by making a batch inspired by the black and white cookie. Like its namesake, these donuts have a pillowy-soft body with a crisp layer of icing – half black and half white. The cookies (and so, the donuts) taste ever-so-slightly of lemon, although the flavor is not an obvious lemon. No lip puckering here. And it’s January, and you know, resolutions… so they’re baked. While these didn’t come from a white box with red-and-white twine, they certainly taste like they would.

Bite
Donut recipe adapted from The Faux Martha, icing recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.

Black and White Cookie Donuts (Baked)
Yields 6 donuts

Donuts:
1/3 cup milk*
1 tsp white vinegar*
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp lemon extract

Vanilla Icing:
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 tbsp simple syrup (or light corn syrup)**
2 tsp hot water
1/8 tsp almond extract

Chocolate Icing:
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tbsp simple syrup (or light corn syrup)**
3/4 tbsp hot water
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1.Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside for 5-10 minutes until milk curdles. *Alternatively, you can use 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together curdled milk, melted butter, sugar, agave nectar, egg, vanilla extract, and lemon extract.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Be careful not to overmix, as you don’t want the donuts to become tough.

4. Grease your donut pan. Spoon batter into a plastic bag (or piping bag if you have one). Push out all air from the bag and seal closed. Work batter inside the bag towards the bottom. Snip corner of plastic bag, and pipe batter evenly into six donut wells.

Batter with bag

Prebake
5. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until donuts have become golden brown around the edges. Let donuts sit for a few minutes in the pan, then remove and let cool on rack.

Baked donuts out of oven
6. To make the icing: use two separate bowls for vanilla and chocolate.

Vanilla Icing: Combine confectioners’ sugar, simple syrup**, hot water, and almond extract. Whisk until mixture is smooth and resembles an icing-like consistency. If it’s too runny for your taste, add more confectioners’ sugar. If it’s too thick, add a very small amount of water at a time. Be conservative here – you don’t want to swing the other way and have icing that’s too runny.

Chocolate Icing: Combine confectioners’ sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder in a small bowl. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring after every twenty second interval, until smooth. Pour melted chocolate into the confectioners’ sugar mixture, along with simple syrup** and water. Whisk until mixture is smooth. If it’s too runny in this case, add more confectioners’ sugar along with cocoa powder, if too thick add just a small amount of water.

**Traditionally, you’ll see light corn syrup used in icing recipes. However I was already elbows deep in making the donuts when I realized that we were out, so I improvised by making a homemade simple syrup. I simmered 1 part water to 3 parts granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until bubbles formed, then reduced heat to low for about 15 minutes until mixture had boiled down and thickened. I was very happy with the results, but if you have light corn syrup, feel free to save a few steps and use it instead.

7. Spread chocolate icing on one half of each donut, and vanilla on the other half. Let icing harden before serving.

Pumpkin Pecan Donuts with Maple Vanilla Glaze

Pumpkin DonutsIs there a relationship more alluring than the one between bloggers and pumpkin? As a long-time blog reader, I’d always look forward to the seasonal deluge of pumpkin recipes, judiciously stocking up on Libby’s pumpkin puree long before Thanksgiving rolled around, just in case. No, really, one October my pining for pumpkin spice muffins happened to coincide with a shortage of pumpkin puree at our local stores. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Shop early and shop often, people.

I made this recipe twice. The first time, the donuts themselves were nicely shaped, but I added too much liquid to the glaze for my liking. Delicious, but not quite the “quintessential donut frosting” my boyfriend, Brian, was envisioning. Okay, challenge accepted.

The second time I made them, I pulled a bonehead move and spooned them nice and neat into the donut wells before realizing I had forgotten the baking powder. Whoa! Time, to get it together, girl. So attempt #2 yielded still-delicious-but-slightly-misshaped donuts, that donut shop-esque frosting Brian had wanted,and blogging conundrum #1 – which picture to upload?!

I’ve witnessed some heated donut discussions – should the dozen have more glazed or frosted? Always strong arguments from both sides, so I’m going to go with “both”, final answer. Different strokes! First attempt above, with a thinner glaze. Second attempt below, with a more traditional frosting-like consistency.

Maple Vanilla Glaze

Baked Pumpkin Pecan Donuts with Maple Vanilla Glaze

Donuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Maple Vanilla Glaze/Frosting
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
a few tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste
little drizzle of water (start at 1 tsp and increase, slowly, to your liking)
chopped pecans for sprinkling over top

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add sugars, vanilla extract, oil, and pumpkin puree to eggs and mix.
4. Pour wet ingredients into dry. Combine, but don’t overmix. Stir in chopped pecans.
5. Spoon mixture into donut pan wells according to directions. My pan says to fill donut wells halfway, but I chanced it with filling them two-thirds full, and it worked out just fine. So scratch that, fill according to your risk aversion.
6. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the thickest part comes out clean.
7. Invert donuts onto wire rack to cool completely.
8. Whisk together all glaze/frosting ingredients until smooth and to your preferred consistency. Dip smoothest side of donuts into glaze.
9. Sprinkle chopped pecans over top and let harden.

Yields about 8 donuts (or 6 + 1 big muffin)

…Oh, and through all this, I learned that Brian is quite partial when it comes to donuts. Pumpkin donuts are great, but chocolate donuts are The. BEST. How could I resist? Sneak peek of what’s to come (below, swirled with pumpkin pecan)!

Half and half