Jolly old St. Nicholas, Lean your ear this way!
Don’t you tell a single soul, What I’m going to say;
Christmas Eve is coming soon, Now, you dear old man,
Whisper what you’ll bring to me: Tell me if you can.
The family is all snuggled up with us in Savannah this year. While we are missing the rest of our family up North, we are so happy to celebrate the holidays in our new home. I say “new” but we have had the house for almost a year! Over the course of a year the walls have been painted, art has been hung, mid century furniture has replaced dark leather accents and Home Goods has become my best decorating friend.
Having a week off from work means that I get to try new recipes and dazzle my guests. The time it takes to prepare, rise, punch down, rise again, bake, cool, photograph, edit the shots and clean up the whole mess is definitely worth it over a break.
These Challah Doughnuts with Eggnog Custard though. Set the pecan pie aside and let these stunning confections be the holiday showstopper. First off, who makes doughnuts in their own home? YOU! Second off, who dares fill them with custard made from a creamy holiday guzzle? YOU!
No, I’m not Jewish and have only attended one Hanukkah party in my life. But after riffling through the Bon Appetit December issue, these little treats caught my eye. The dough forms together so easily and crisps up to golden brown perfection when fried. Tear them open to find airy and light dough with a creamy egg nog center.
It took the dough about 1 hour to rise. I used a biscuit cutter to create perfect little circles from the fluffy dough. After rising again for 30 more minutes, I set up a huge pot of vegetable oil for the frying extravaganza. My biggest regret is that I did not buy a deep-fry thermometer. I figured that a flick of water into the pot would tell me if it was ready based on a sizzle. I realized later that was the method of a cast iron skillet, not a pot of oil. That being said, my first three doughnuts were dark gold on the outside and raw on the inside. I turned down the heat and double fried them and life went on. My next few batches of doughnuts fried gently and evenly-so no harm done. All this to say, spend 10 bucks and buy a deep-fry thermometer.
Last year I was inspired by the “Favorite Things” song:
Raindrops on roses
And whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
The packages are so simple and stunning just wrapped in kraft paper and twine. Adorn the gifts with tree trimmings and card stock tags for a minimalistic look. I was so happy when my sister-in-law contributed her brown paper wrapping with gold dots and bright red ribbon to the mix.
Together we made gingerbread and sugar cookies with royal icing. The four tiered tray started the week full and each day a tier of cookies disappeared.
These are just a few of my favorite things.
* this recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit
1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon plus ¼ cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2⅓ cups all-purpose flour, plus more
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
Vegetable oil (for bowl)
Egg Nog Custard
- 2 cups egg nog
- 6 tbsp sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 ½ tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- dash of ground clove
- dash of cinnamon
- dash of nutmeg
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
Frying and Assembly
Vegetable oil (about 8 cups; for frying)
1 cup sugar
egg nog custard
A 2-inch-diameter biscuit or cookie cutter, deep-fry thermometer, pastry bag, and ¼-inch-diameter pastry tip
Mix yeast, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and ½ cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment to combine; let sit until mixture is foamy, 8–10 minutes.
Add egg yolks, salt, and remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat on medium-low speed to combine, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and gradually add 2⅓ cups flour; mix until combined and thick, about 3 minutes. Remove paddle, scrape down mixture back into bottom of bowl, and swap in dough hook.
With mixer on low speed, add butter a piece at a time, mixing until incorporated after each addition. Once all the butter has been added, mix until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour by the tablespoonful, until no longer sticky, about 3 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Egg Nog Custard
Add vanilla with the egg nog into a saucepan. Heat the egg nog over medium high heat and bring it to a boil.
While the egg nog is being heated, place the sugar, egg and yolks, cornstarch and salt in a bowl. Whisk until you have a thick, smooth mix. Set it aside until the nog comes to a boil.
When nog starts to bubble, remove it from the heat. Slowly pour hot nog in a thin stream, into the egg mix, WHILE WHISKING CONSTANTLY to temper the egg mix. When the eggs have been tempered, add the egg/nog mix back into the hot saucepan.
Heat the custard base, over medium heat, while whisking vigorously until it starts to thicken (1 – 2 minutes).
While whisking, let the custard come to a boil (the custard will release bubbles). Cook for a further 1-2 minutes after you see the first bubbles break the surface. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Whisk in the butter, until it’s completely mixed in.
Pour the custard into a bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap is touching the whole surface. This is to prevent a custard skin from forming on top.
Let the custard cool down to room temperature and then let it chill in the fridge (1-2 hours) until chilled.
After 1 hour- Punch down dough and roll or pat out on a lightly floured surface to ½” thick. Punch out rounds of dough with cutter and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing 1″ apart. Re-roll scraps once and cut out more rounds.
Cover doughnuts loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until not quite doubled in size, 30–40 minutes.
Frying and Assembly
Fit a large heavy saucepan with thermometer; pour in oil to come 3″ up sides and heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 350°. Working in batches and adjusting heat to maintain oil temperature, fry doughnuts, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined baking sheet; let cool slightly.
Place sugar in a medium bowl, and working in batches, toss doughnuts to coat. Transfer back to baking sheet.
Spoon Egg Nog Custard into pastry bag fitted with tip (or use a squeeze bottle). Working one at a time, poke a small hole into side of doughnuts (a chopstick works great) and gently pipe in a generous amount of Egg Nog Custard.
Enjoy the doughnuts hot and crispy with the gooey custard oozing out!