Hi. Happy Easter! I know it's been a very long time since I last updated my little blog, but I'm sure you'll forgive me once you see the so-pretty donuts I have for you today...
These pretty donuts are the perfect Easter treat for this holiday weekend, and they are so easy to make. No electric mixers required, no frying experience necessary; these donuts can be whipped up in a matter minutes with just a good old whisk, and even better, they are baked, not fried. The batter is laced with hints of nutmeg, which gives them just a little bit extra depth-of-flavor, and the icing is just pink-tinted white chocolate (softened with a little bit of grapeseed oil).
But... if you want to make your donuts a bit more fancy for Easter, why not try adding a few homemade spun sugar nests? Place a few some candy-coated chocolate eggs inside the nests and there ya go!
How adorable are they!
Okay, now I know you're thinking that I'm being absolutely ridiculous. You're thinking that these donuts may be easy to make, and you don't have to worry about playing around with really hot oil... but now you have to rummage through your drawers for a candy thermometer and fling hot melted sugar around your kitchen? Am I joking!!!???
No. No, I'm not. Making spun sugar at home is actually really easy. As long as you have a candy thermometer and know how to read it (duh, right!?), you can do this. Here's a kind of short run-down...
In a saucepan, dump some water, some light corn syrup (or liquid glucose) and a truckload of sugar (sorry!). Heat until the sugar is melted, then let it cook for say, 10-15 minutes, until the thermometer reads 305F (151C). Take the pan off the heat (maybe take it off a few degrees early, just to be on the safe side), dunk the bottom of the pan in a bowl or sink filled with ice water to stop the cooking process, and let the bubbles in the sugar mixture settle down.
How are you going? Still with me? Good, because you've just finished the hard part. Time for the really fun part. While the sugar was cooking, you would have prepared an area in your kitchen for flinging hot melted sugar around. This involves lying down some newspaper/parchment paper or similar, and weighing down a couple of wooden spoons with the long handles hanging over the edge of your counter (I weigh them down with a heavy wooden cutting board); it'll kinda resemble over-sized wooden tongs.
You're going to need something to fling your sugar with, as well. If you have an old whisk, you can cut off the rounded bit of the wires so you're left with a bunch of pointy wires hanging in a circle-shape... or you can do what I did (since I don't have any spare whisks) - take two forks, line them up back to back so the tongs are pointing out, and place some rubber bands along the fork handles to hold them together.
Place your pan of melted sugar right next to your sugar-flinging area.
Okay. Ready? This is it. This is where the magic happens. Stick your whisk, or forks, into the melted sugar, hold it above the pan for a moment until any big drips fall back in, then quickly position your sugar-flinging utensil over the wooden spoon handles and quickly fling it back and forth (use your wrist to do the flinging action, it'll work better). You'll immediately be rewarded as thin strands of pliable sugar fall from your sugar-flinger and drape themselves over the wooden spoons.
When the sugar strands stops falling as they've all hardened, prop your utensil over the pan of melted sugar, and with clean, dry (and preferably cool) hands, grab a hunk of the sugar strands off the wooden spoon handles and gently bend them into the shape of a nest. Repeat for as many times as you like, or until your melted sugar becomes too hard to work with anymore.
That's it. It's actually very, very easy.
Pop one of your gorgeous, homemade spun sugar nests on top of one of your Easter donuts, nestle in some chocolate eggs, and you are done.
I know, I know, I took way too many photos of these things. I couldn't help it; they're so photogenic.
Before I leave you to it, I have to let you know one very important thing. The spun sugar nests do melt!! If it's a warm and/or humid day, they will melt even quicker. Make them immediately before serving to avoid disappointment.
That one's my favorite photo, right up there.
- For the donuts:
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- scant ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- scant ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup milk room temperature
- ¼ cup sour cream room temperature
- 1 egg room temperature
- 2 tablespoons 30g butter, melted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For the icing:
- 7 oz 200g white chocolate, chopped
- ½ teaspoon grapeseed oil* not necessary, but recommended
- pink gel food coloring if desired
- rainbow sprinkles if desired
- candy-coated chocolate eggs to fill the sugar nests
- For the spun sugar nests:
- 2 cups caster sugar
- ½ cup light corn syrup or liquid glucose
- ½ cup water
- For the donuts: Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Spray two mini-donut pans with non-stick cooking spray, or smear on a little melted butter if you prefer. Set aside.
- Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt into a mixing bowl; whisk to combine and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, sour cream, and eggs; whisk in melted butter, oil, and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a silicone/rubber spatula until just combined. Batter will be a little lumpy; do not overmix as this will make the donuts a bit on the tough side.
- Transfer batter to a piping bag fitted with a large, round tip (or a ziploc bag, then seal it up and snip off a bottom corner). Pipe the batter into the donut pan, filling ¾ full, and getting the batter as even as possible around the donut rings (if more batter is piped on one side of the ring than the other, you'll probably end up with uneven donuts!).
- Bake until doughnuts are risen and lightly browned on the edges, 8-10 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the donuts to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the icing: Place chocolate and oil, if using, in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Add food coloring, if desired. Let chocolate set, or briefly place in the refrigerator, to firm slightly, until it is not so runny so as to drip straight off the donuts. A good way to test is to dip a clean, dry spoon into the chocolate, grab up a spoonful and let it fall back into bowl; if it piles up on top of itself for a few seconds before melting back in, it's ready.
- Dip the tops of the donuts into the chocolate icing, and place back on the wire rack. Add sprinkles, if using. Set donuts aside for the icing to harden (or place briefly in the refrigerator, or freezer if you're in a hurry).
- For the sugar nests: Place all ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar is melted, stirring very gently occasionally. Brush sides of pan with a wet pastry brush if sugar ends up on the sides of the pan. Once sugar has melted, increase heat to medium-high. Using a candy thermometer, cook until the temperature reaches 305F/151C, do not stir. This takes up to 15 minutes or so (so in the meantime, prepare an ice bath in the sink or a large heatproof bowl), and the last few degrees go quickly, so perhaps remove from heat just a few degrees earlier. Dunk the bottom of the saucepan into the ice bath, let the bubbles in the melted sugar mixture settle, and begin making spun sugar!
- While the sugar is cooking, and probably before you prepare the ice bath, prepare your sugar-flinging area. You can do this over your sink, or over your kitchen counter. Anchor a couple of wooden spoon handles over the edge of your kitchen counter (I used a big heavy wooden cutting board to hold them in place, but masking tape would work as well). Cover the floor under your workspace with newspaper, dropcloth, parchment paper, or similar.
- Be careful here because the sugar will be hot!! Using a wire whisk with the ends cut, or a couple of forks held back-to-back (hold them together with rubber bands), dip the prongs into the melted sugar, briefly hold above the pan for any big drips to fall back into the pan, then quickly start flinging your sugar-flingling utensil over the wooden spoon handles. Use your wrist to make a sort of waving/flinging motion, at least 12 inches/30cm above the spoon handles. Be sure to work quickly!
- When the sugar strands falling from your sugar-flinger have hardened, prop it above the pan of melted sugar, then with clean, cool, dry hands, carefully grab a handful of sugar strands and gently mold them into the shape of a nest. Repeat this process as necessary. Eventually the melted sugar will cool down and become too hard to work with anymore.
- Place all your spun sugar nests on your Easter donuts, nestle in a few candy-coated chocolate Easter eggs, and serve immediately. The sugar nests will begin to melt down eventually, once prepared, and will do so even quicker on warm/humid days. While the donuts can be prepared in advance, make the spun sugar nests immediately before serving to avoid disappointment.
Note that if you have trouble removing leftover hardened sugar in your saucepan, cover the sugar with hot water and let sit overnight. Eventually it will dissolve! If it isn't dissolving, just keep refilling with hot water as it cools. Don't worry, your pan isn't ruined, it will dissolve! 🙂