Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sharing is Caring.... and half the calories.

I love to bake. Especially on Sundays when we get home from church and Mr. 31 hunkers down in the tv room for his fix of Sunday afternoon football and the house is peaceful and quiet and the whole afternoon stretches itself out in front of me and says 'i am all yours, honey!'.  It is giant stress relief for me to pull out my cookbooks and page through them until I find that recipe. The one that makes me drool. And so, as it often goes in our household, we have a yummy pan of treats on Sunday evenings. And Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings, too. Recently though, in light of a gluten and dairy allergy rearing its very ugly, (not to mention grotesquely annoying  and horribly frustrating) head in yours truly, it hasn't been as much fun to bake. One because the finished product mocks me from the counter and two because Mr. 31 gets to eat twice as much of the goodies and I can't imagine that is any good for his waistline. 

And, yes, I know that I can make all sorts of delectable, gluten-free, dairy-free yummies (trust me, I am working on it!), but sometimes you just want to take comfort in the old staples you can bake by heart and you don't feel like turning your kitchen into a chemistry lab to figure out substitutions and flour-alternatives. And so, instead of cutting out my weekend baking therapy all together, I have decided to share. Each time I make something yummy I am going to challenge myself to pack half of it up and give it to a friend, or a neighbor, or a random stranger (umm... okay, maybe that last one won't work out so well...) with a little note attached to it. I often chat with people and leave thinking that I want to thank them for being in my life, or encourage them, or let them know they are in my prayers. Follow-up isn't really my forte though (frowny face).....and then weeks later I remember and am mad at myself that I didn't get around to it. I thought maybe having some treats to attach my sentiments to would help me be more diligent. And besides,  who doesn't like fresh baked goods, right?

I started this past weekend and made this absolutely delicious, homemade doughnut recipe that I found in this seasons Better Home and Gardens FoodGifts magazine. They were super quick and easy to make and when my dad (a tried-and-true-chocolate-cake-donut-expert) tasted them he said they were 'perfect'.  I'll admit, gluten-laden though they were, I even took one (big) bite. Trust me, it was worth it! P.s. - If you don't have doughnut pans, I bet these could be made in cupcake pans or small molds. You would just have to adjust the bake time. My thought is that the small investment I made in a doughnut pan was well worth it because these are going in my recipe box as a versatile, easy treat to make for lots of occasions!

Right about now is when I caved and took a bite....
Decadent Chocolate Doughnuts 
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. instant coffee or espresso crystals
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. miniature semisweet chocolate chips or pieces 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously coat 2-inch doughnut pan. In a large bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, coffee crystals, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center of mixture. In medium bowl combine egg, milk and melted butter. Add liquid mix all at once to flour mix, stir until just smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter in resealable plastic bag, snip hole in one corner of bag. Pipe batter into prepared pan, filling rings half full. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 2 minutes. Invert doughnuts onto a wire rack. Cool pan and re-grease between batches. Coat doughnuts with powdered sugar, granulated sugar or glaze.
If using sugar coating, place sugar in resealable bag and add hot doughnuts to bag. Shake lightly to coat. Remove and cool on racks.
Powdered Sugar Glaze: In a large bowl stir together 4 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbsp. corn syrup, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Stir in enough milk to make a thick glaze of drizzling consistency.

*My tips:
  - The recipe says you will get 36 doughnuts. I only got 18. I filled my doughnut pan about 3/4 full with batter which gives you a rounder, plumper doughnut. 
 - Don't skip the 2 minute cooling period in the pans. 
 - I baked my doughnuts for 10 minutes. This gave me a more cake-like doughnut. Less cooking time gives you a fudgy-er doughnut. (Both, to me, seem equally delicious!)
  - Instead of drizzling my glaze, I dunked the tops of the doughnuts into the glaze and them let the excess drip down the sides as the glaze hardened. I, also, only made 1/2 of the glaze recipe and had plenty.
Letting the glaze cool

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