thai tea filled coconut donuts
HAPPY NATIONAL DONUT DAY! HOORAY! I've been waiting to share this recipe for a bit but I'm super excited about it. If I haven't already established this week that I love Thai food... I LOVE THAI FOOD. I don't normally go in for sweet drinks when I'm eating out but I love thai iced tea. Back at our little neighborhood spot in San Diego, it was a must have every time we ordered take out. It's made from strongly brewed ceylon tea with milk and sugar, sometimes condensed milk and evaporated milk or whole milk to give it a creamy finish. I wanted to create a donut that reminded me of this delicious drink and here we are! I infused a pastry cream with thai tea and filled perfectly fluffy donuts rolled in toasted coconut sugar. Also, I love toasted coconut. None of that fake coconut flavor please, but real toasted coconut is the best. I feel like the world is divided into coconut lovers and coconut haters so if you're of the latter group, feel free to omit the coconut in the sugar.
This is the same dough recipe that I used for my blackberry lemonade donuts. If you have the time to give it the full 2 days and some change, I highly recommend doing so as this recipe really develops amazing flavor over that time period. If you're trying to crank out donuts the same day, that's fine too. If you are making the abbreviated version of this recipe, you can warm your milk to a tepid temperature (around 75 degrees F), dissolve the sugar, add your yeast and let it sit for about 15 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients. I would recommend transferring your dough to the fridge after about an hour and a half until cold as the dough is much easier to work with when chilled.
If you feel a little nervous about frying foods, here are some of my tips! 1. Choose a reasonably sized vessel. Too large of a pot and you'll waste tons of oil, too small and you'll have a huge mess. For this recipe, I filled my 4 qt Lodge dutch oven about half full with oil (between 2-3 quarts of oil). This prevented excessive splatter as the donuts weren't frying near the top of the pot; 2. Invest in a thermometer. TRUST ME. I picked up a probe style thermometer on Amazon and I use it for everything from taking the internal temperatures of my meats to monitoring the temperature of oil to checking for doneness inside my breads. Being able to keep a close eye on that will keep your oil from burning your foods and becoming dangerous if it gets too hot. You'll notice in this recipe I fry at 325 degrees F--very important because frying at a higher temperature will get your donuts browned before they cook on the inside; 3. DO NOT drop whatever you are frying into the oil from high above. Your food's cannonball dive into the oil will cause a splash and potentially result in some nasty burns. This might seem counterintuitive, but getting your hand closer to the oil and gently easing whatever you're frying in will save you so much pain and clean up. If you keep these three things in mind, you'll be frying foods like a true champ in no time!
When it comes to the pastry cream filling, infusing your milk and cream overnight really brings out the flavor, but again this can be abbreviated. You'll want to let everything steep for at least 1 hour. You're going to want to strain the milk before making the pastry cream to remove the bits of tea leaves. The trick to a good pastry cream is to constantly stir your mix until it's very thick. I always work over medium-low to medium heat--too hot and you'll scramble the eggs. I really like using a saucier pan since it has rounded sides and the eggs won't scramble in the corners like they might with a straight sided sauce pan. Once your pastry cream is very thick, strain it again through a fine mesh strainer to remove any unintentional scrambled egg bits into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it sit in the fridge until very cold and then it's ready to become delicious donut filling!
makes 18 donuts
500 g milk
175 g brown sugar
20 g active dry yeast
20 g vanilla bean paste (extract is fine, but the paste gives a more intense vanilla flavor)
1100 g bread flour
10 g sea salt
175 g unsalted butter, diced, cold
Canola oil, for frying
Toasted Coconut Sugar (recipe below), for rolling
Thai Tea Pastry Cream (recipe below), for filling.
1. In a small sauce pan, weigh milk, sugar and vanilla. Warm gently over medium low heat until sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature. Add cooled milk mixture to an airtight container (I love these containers) and stir in yeast. Place in fridge overnight up to 24 hours. Alternately, warm milk to a tepid temperature, add sugar, yeast and vanilla and let sit for 15-20 minutes until frothy.
2. To make the dough, add yeast mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add eggs and mix on low. In a separate bowl, weigh the bread flour and salt and stir to mix. With the mixer running, gradually add flour and salt mixture until all flour is incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add butter, a couple of pieces at a time until all the butter has been added. Continue to mix at medium speed for 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and butter is completely mixed in. Transfer dough to a greased bowl (or again, if you're like me, a greased gallon ziplock bag), cover and place in the fridge overnight. If you are making this recipe in one day, leave dough out at room temperature to proof for 90 minutes, then transfer to the fridge for an hour before using.
3. Remove dough from the fridge 30 minutes prior to rolling. Remove dough from container to a floured work surface and also dust the top of the dough with flour. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Using a circular cutter about 3 1/2 inches in diameter, or a wide mouthed glass, cut out as many donuts as you can. Transfer donuts to a floured baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let proof for 1 hour. You can bring your remaining dough together once more and roll it out again to get more donuts but after that just toss the leftover dough.
4. In a dutch oven or pot, heat 2-3 quarts of oil to 325 degrees F. In batches of 3-4 donuts at a time, gently lower donuts into oil and fry 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer donuts to a wire rack set over a sheet tray to drain excess oil. Allow the oil to come back up to 325 degrees between each batch of donuts. Once donuts are cool, toss in coconut sugar. To fill, poke a hole in one end using a small knife or wooden dowel. Fill a piping bag or gallon ziplock bag with the pastry cream. Cut off the piping bag tip or one of the corners of the bag to create a small hole. Insert the bag into the hole in the donut and fill until donut swells and filling comes out of the hole. Repeat until donuts are filled. Enjoy!
TOASTED COCONUT SUGAR
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut out on a baking sheet and toast for 5-7 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until coconut is a coarse powder. Toss with sugar. Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 month.
THAI TEA PASTRY CREAM:
100g heavy cream
20g thai tea
1 vanilla bean, seeds and pod
4 egg yolks
In a medium sauce pan or saucier, warm milk, cream, thai tea and vanilla. Transfer to an airtight container and chill in the fridge overnight. Strain milk into a sauce pan, discard vanilla pod and tea leaves. Warm over medium heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until thick and pale yellow in color. This is going to be hard work at first, but just keep whisking and everything will come together.
Whisk 1/2 of the warm cream mixture into the eggs taking care to whisk constantly while doing so*. Whisk egg mixture back into the rest of the cream in the sauce pan (scrape all the egg and sugar from the mixing bowl into the pan) and return to medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until very thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic touches the surface of the pastry cream (this prevents a skin from forming). Chill until very cold. Can be stored in the fridge for 1 week.
* this technique is referred to as tempering. You are gradually adding hot liquid to egg yolks to bring the temperature up slowly without turning them into scrambled eggs. If you were to immediately add the eggs to the warm cream, your eggs would scramble. The goal is to get them warm enough to be able to add back to the cream mixture without them overcooking.