A little over a month ago, I turned half a century old! Or, as my brother is fond of telling me, I have now entered the 6th decade of my life! Thanks Art. This led to me getting a couple of mini popover pans. Because of course. Doesn’t everyone get a set of two 12-count mini popover pans from Nordic Ware when they turn 50?
Speaking of turning 50, one major thing I’m noticing that’s different from the me of the 40s, aside from needing a few more pills, and having a few more aches and pains, is that I seem to be more able to judge when something is worth stressing out about, and when it makes sense to just let it go. I don’t know if it necessarily has to do with being a certain age as much is it might have to do with the current times we live in. We live in such crazy times, and there are things happening that are beyond our control, and sometimes we have to just let go of the crap we have no control over.
Another thing I’m noticing is that I seem to be interested on famous people and what age they were at a particular point in time in their careers. For some reason, it’s usually some star or celebrity from movies I remembered from the past. Like, for example, how old Roger Moore was when he starred in the film Moonraker. And that will then make me wonder what the ages were of other people associated with them at that same point in time. Crazy random, huh? So now I know that Roger Moore was 51 years old when he played in the James Bond movie, Moonraker, and that the singer for the theme song in the film, Shirley Bassey was 42 years old. There are probably a million more important things I could use the internet for, but instead I’ll focus on totally useless stuff like that. And looking up recipes, of course. And I have no clue as to why I have a sudden interest in how old someone was when they did something. I mean, does anyone else do this?
So, anyways…with two mini popover pans at my disposal and about a few weeks before this post, I was able to try out a few non popover type recipes with these pans. Because that’s how I roll.
The impetus for focusing on non-popover recipes that specifically use mini popover pans started because of Bouchon Bakery’s bouchons au chocolat, which literally translates to ‘corks of chocolate’. They are actually just a fancy type of brownie batter baked in mini popover pans. What I really like about them, though, is that they are almost like chocolate lava cakes, only not as overtly lava-esque in the centers, but instead just have a slight moistness. They are fairly easy to make, too. Just make sure you use the right recipe for it. There are a few recipes floating around the internet claiming to be Thomas Keller’s recipe for bouchons au chocolat, but they call for a cup of cocoa powder, which is just too much for one pan of 12 bouchons. It should only be 50 grams, which is just a little more than a 1/3 cup.
So…over the last month, I made ittle lemon cardamom cakes, then some chai cork muffins, a batch of dulce de leche brown butter donut holes, and finally these caramel cork donuts. Out of all the recipes, I chose to showcase these because I think they are the most successful, although I do like these plain without caramel and without being rolled in extra sugar, as well. The chai cork muffins tasted great, but unfortunately no amount of recipe adjustments could change how phallic they always seemed to turn out. Judge for yourself HERE.
Anyways, Happy May!! And on to the recipe…I hope you enjoy!
caramel cork donuts
2.5 cups bread flour
3 Tablespoons granulated or caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1.5 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted but cooled to lukewarm
2 large eggs, room temperature
caramel sauce thickened with cornstarch, recipe below
granulated sugar or confectioners sugar, for dusting
special equipment: baking spray, 2 12-count mini popover pans. openings for each popover mold should be 1.75 inches
Combine flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon to a medium (about 2-3 quart) glass or stainless steel bowl and stir with a whisk several times. Set aside.
In a small bowl, add the water and the 1/2 tsp. sugar, stir to dissolve, then add the yeast and stir very gently only to make sure there are no dry clumps of yeast. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until frothy and bubbly on surface of water.
Melt the butter, but make sure it is only lukewarm by the time you use it.
Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the yeast water mixture, the eggs, and the lukewarm butter to the center of the well and stir in circular motion from inside the well and going outwards towards the sides of the bowl. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl to ensure all the flour mixture is moistened and that there are no large clumps of dry ingredients. The developing dough will be sticky and not look like a ball of dough, and that is okay. No kneading or further stirring is necessary after making sure all the dry ingredients are moistened.
Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap greased on bottom side facing the dough and let sit in a warm place undisturbed for 1.5 hours.
While dough is rising, make the caramel filling. (see below)
After dough has doubled in size, punch down dough to deflate it. Dough may still be somewhat sticky, so punch it with the plastic still in place over it. If dough is sticking to sides of bowl, use a rubber spatula or plastic dough scraper to bring dough together away from sides and towards the center. Cover back with the same plastic and either place in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
In morning, punch down dough again and collect any dough sticking to sides of bowl to the center. Dough may be less sticky. Shape somewhat into a ball by bringing sides to center of dough. Let sit for about 30-45 minutes until dough is a little warmer.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare mini popover pans by spraying each mini popover mold in each pan lightly with baking spray, then adding about 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar to each popover mold then covering the pan with a cutting board and shaking it and turning it over a sink to remove excess sugar. The sugar helps with removal of donuts and also gives it a nice golden brown color on the sides.
Weigh the dough, then divide into 24 equal sized pieces. This will be roughly about an ounce of dough per donut. If you do not have a scale, shoot for each piece of dough to be about the size of a walnut.
On a piece of plastic wrap or silpat, flatten each piece of dough to a pancake about 3.5 inches in diameter. It helps to grease hands lightly if dough is sticky. With a teaspoon or teaspoon scoop, add a heaping spoonful, or about 1.5 teaspoons of the thickened caramel sauce. Fold dough from one end to the other and pinch it closed like a dumpling. Place one in each mold, pinched side facing up. Let rest in molds for about 20-30 minutes, or longer if it is cold until each piece of dough has risen to about the height of the top of the molds or slightly above.
Bake for about 20-22 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove from heat and dredge each donut in a bowl of more granulated sugar, if desired, or, if preferred, dust with confectioners sugar, like beignets.
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1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup milk
In a small saucepan, place the sugar, lemon juice, and water, and trace fingers on bottom of saucepan until all the sugar is moistened. Place on medium heat on top of stove and let boil until it turns a light amber color.
Remove from heat and very carefully and slowly but steadily pour the cream while also whisking, trying to keep an arm’s distance from sugar, as it will bubble and splatter and steam burns are not fun. This is my favorite part of making caramel.
After cream has been mixed in, whisk in the salt and vanilla. Cool somewhat so that caramel is just warm.
In a small bowl, add the milk and cornstarch and whisk together, then pour into the caramel in the saucepan and bring it back to the stove top and heat on medium while also steadily stirring with a whisk until bubbling. Continue to simmer and stir for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover tightly and place in fridge to cool overnight or until significantly colder and thicker.