Friday, May 27, 2011

Doughnut holes with Raspberry beer dipping sauce.

I had a beer themed party last week, well, more accurately, I tried to have a beer themed food party last week… which almost worked.. except it rained and most people at the party do not like beer.  Myself included…  It did not stop us from cooking go-with-beer kind of food and it certainly did not stop me from making a desert that included beer.
I often regress to my childhood on this blog, but I can’t help it.  For me, the most happy, sunny and cherished memories of childhood associate with comfort food.  What is more comforting and bad for you as doughnuts?  What you call doughnuts and back in the old country we called ‘Ponchiki”.
“Ponchiki” is a happy medium between a doughnut and a Zeppole.  If doughnut and zeppole run off and got married their child would be a gold ball sized, yeasted but light, soft, fried but not greasy, covered with powdered or cinnamon sugar… pure joy.  It is a bit lighter than a doughnut, bigger in size than a doughnut hole, but made out of yeasted dough unlike a zepple. 
So here is my version of doughnut holes or “Ponchiki” to bring out a kid in every one of us.  And the beer?  Where does the beer fit in?  “Ponchiki” can be served with a dipping sauce, chocolate or Crème anglaise.  I wanted something fruity and some place where I can incorporate a great Raspberry beer, which my husband buys for me.  In all honesty, it tastes nothing like beer, more like a great raspberry soda, but the bottle says beer, so I am sticking to my guns… Raspberry beer dipping sauce it is!
The recipe makes about 20 gold sized doughnut holes.  Feel free to double for a large crowd.
For the doughnuts:
3 – 3.5 cups of all purpose flour
6 tbs sugar
1.5 tbs of instant yeast
¾ cup of milk
2 eggs
6 tbs of butter at room temperature
½ tsp of salt
5-6 cups of peanut or vegetable oil for frying
½ cup of sugar and 1 tbs of Cinnamon for dusting.

For the sauce:
16 oz of raspberry beer
1 cup sugar
1 cup of frozen or fresh black currant or any other tart berries.

Make the dough.  Heat the milk to very warm temperature (make sure it is below 115F or you will kill the yeast), combine with sugar, salt and yeast and let stand a few minutes, allowing the milk to cool and yeast to activate.  In the stand-up mixer fit with paddle attachment, mix the milk and the eggs, add 3 cups of flour and mix well.  Switch to a dough hook and knead the dough for a few minutes, then begin adding butter one tablespoon at a time.  When all the butter is incorporated, evaluate your dough, does it look runny, of yes, add another ½ cup of flour.  Knead the dough for 5 – 7 minutes , cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size about 2 hrs.
In the mean time prepare the sauce.  Pure the berries in the food processor and strain out the seeds if you want ( I like to leave them in).  In the medium sauce pan, combine the beer, sugar and the berry pure and simmer until reduced to 1/3.  That is it, the dipping sauce is done.

To fry the doughnuts, heat up the oil to 350F and reduce the heat to med-low once the temperature is reached.  While the oil is heating up, dust your hands, and a cutting board with flour. Dip a ½ inch ice cream scoop into flour and scoop the dough.  Form a soft ball with your hands, taking care to treat the dough gently.  Place ready dough balls on a floured board.  You want to shape all your doughnut holes before frying, because once in the oil, things will happen very quickly and you will not have time to roll more holes, fry, turn and sugar dust at the same time…. Unless you have 8 arms like an octopus.

Once all your doughnut holes are shaped, drop 5 or 6 into the oil.  Don’t overcrowd the pan and try to keep the oil temperature at around 350F (a little less is ok).  Fry the holes until they are evenly golden on all sides.  Drain on paper towels and coat with Cinnamon sugar while they are still warm.

Serve with the raspberry beer sauce.  Some ice cream would not hurt either. Mine was Mango Orange blossom with blackberry swirl ( try saying that 10 times fast).

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