A Tale of Two (Baked) Donuts: Matcha Green Tea and Nutella

A few weeks ago I met up with my friend Linda who I befriended this summer at a wonderful food photography workshop here in Boston.  We have both been eagerly practicing our food styling and photographing since the workshop (i.e. we are major food dorks!) and decided to join forces to whip up, style, and photograph some beautiful baked donuts.  After perusing some recipes online, we decided to bake these matcha green tea donuts and baked nutella donuts.  Linda bought most of the ingredients (I brought the sprinkles!) and we convened at her lovely house on an overcast Sunday afternoon (perfect for photographing!).  She had just visited Mryth ceramics in Allston, MA so we had some gorgeous bowls and plates for styling.  I also brought along a few pieces from Ogusky Ceramics (@botonpotter) to round out the setup.

First up were the matcha green tea donuts.  We had a little extra help from Linda’s dog, Elsie, to make these 🙂 Who knew dogs loved green tea donut batter?

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I have to admit that we were a bit skeptical of the green tea donuts at first. They were a bit hard to get out of the pan and about half were deemed “unphoto worthy” after removal.

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After we ruined a few more donuts trialling different glaze dipping strategies, we finally found a method that was both delicious and aesthetically pleasing.  We recommend dipping the side that was not face down agains the pan while baking, otherwise the glaze sticks into all the nooks and crannies of the baked donut and doesn’t look great.

The final product was insanely delicious and quite pretty..if you like teenage mutant ninja turtle green 🙂

Next we moved on to the Nutella baked donuts.  We were in a bit of a rush to finish these because it was the first day after daylight saving time and we realized sunset was fast approaching!  These baked up perfectly round and were much easier to remove from the pan.  We went a little overboard decorating them with sprinkles and then ran upstairs to take advantage of the little remaining sunlight.  Luckily we were able to get a few shots in before it grew dark.

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While these donuts were the cuter of the pair, our favorite was the matcha green tea donuts.  Linda is already working on tweaking the matcha donut recipe!

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One other exciting thing that came from our donut making endeavor was that I got my first repost by Food52!!!!

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Find the donut recipes here:

Matcha Green Tea Donuts
Baked Nutella Donuts

Have any of you tried baked donuts?  What did you think? Any favorites?

 

 

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Nutella Blossom Cookies

As a Jew, Christmas has always seemed magical to me: the tree, the lights, the presents, and of course…the cookies!  With the explosion of social media posts around the holidays, it seemed like everyone was getting in the Christmas spirit (minus Mother Nature…70 degrees on Christmas Eve? Seriously?).  While I didn’t go all in and buy my own Christmas tree (I’ll admit I was kinda tempted because they smell so good!) I did decide to make my own Christmas, or holiday, cookies.

Last weekend I attended an awesome ugly sweater holiday party and the hostess made the most delicious cookies: Nutella cookies!  I am pretty sure I have confessed my love for Nutella before but I really really really really love Nutella!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  After obtaining the recipe from the hostess I decided to make my own version of traditional Peanut Butter Blossoms (the peanut butter cookies with a hershey kiss in the middle) but with the Nutella cookies.

One key fact I learned while making these cookies: While Nutella is amazing, skinning hazelnuts is not.  You can buy them already skinned if you are lucky enough to locate them but I, unfortunately, was not that lucky.  There are 2 methods to skinning hazelnuts.  Both have their pluses and minuses and both are kinda a pain.  I chose the blanching method with good results and to be honest, these cookies are worth the pain.

To all my loyal readers, happy and delicious holidays!

Nutella Blossom Cookies (Recipe adapted slightly from Cook’s Country via food.com)

Makes about 54 cookies

3 cups  all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons  baking powder
1⁄2teaspoon  salt
1 1⁄4cups nutella, spread
4 tablespoons  unsalted butter, softened
1 1⁄3cups  granulated sugar
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1 teaspoon  instant espresso powder
2 large  eggs
1⁄3 cup  milk
1⁄2 cup  hazelnuts, skinned, toasted and chopped fine
1 cup  confectioners’ sugar
54 hershey kisses

Adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 375°F.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

With electric mixer on medium high speed, beat Nutella, butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, espresso powder and eggs and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and milk, and mix until just combined. Fold in 1/2 cup of hazelnuts and refrigerate dough until firm about 1 hour.

Place confectioners’ sugar in a bowl. One at a time roll dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in confectioners’ sugar.

Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Press one hershey kiss into the center of each cookie.

Bake until set, about 8 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Cool 5 minutes on sheets, and transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I came across this recipe a few months ago and kept it in the back of my mind for a “rainy day” (or unusually hot September night as it turns out). After a rough start to the week, I figured my surgery team could use a mid-week pick-me-up in the form of sugar and these cookies immediately came to mind. As perviously confessed, I love all things nutella (see Chocolate Cake with Nutella Chocolate Ganache with Nutella Buttercream)): Nutella crepes, Nutella ice cream, Nutella cupcakes, Nutella by the spoonful… Needless to say, I was pretty eager to try out this cookie recipe.

While these cookies take a little more work than your average cookie, the payoff is worth every minute (even when you have to sacrifice sleep for those minutes!). The extra step of browning the butter creates a nutty, carmelized cookie that is then brought to a whole other level with the nutella filling. The cookie is finally finished with a touch of sea salt for the perfect salty/sweet combination. Luckily, my hospital colleagues helped me eat these or else I may have finished the whole batch myself!

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe originally from Ambitious Kitchen, adapted instructions from Annie’s Eats)

Chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella), about ½ cup
1 cup (16 tbsp.) unsalted butter
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. coarse sea salt, plus more sprinkling
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. greek yogurt or sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
Directions

Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Place chocolate hazelnut spread in a plastic bag toward one corner of the bag. Twist so that it does not squeeze out of the top. Snip one corner off the end of the bag. Pipe small dollops of the spread onto the wax paper, about 1-1½ teaspoons each. You will need about 2 dozen. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and let sit until firm, about 2 hours.

Place the butter in a medium to large skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter completely. Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the butter foams, bubbles slightly, and begins to brown. Continue whisking until the butter is evenly browned, being careful not to burn. Remove from the heat, immediately pour into a bowl (to prevent burning) and let cool.

 

Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugars and the brown butter. Mix on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Blend in the egg and egg yolk, scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and greek yogurt. With the mixer on low speed, blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill the dough, overnight (or at least 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Use a medium dough scoop (about 2 tablespoons) to scoop a portion of cookie dough. Flatten the dough in the palm of your hand. Place a dollop of the frozen Nutella in the middle and roll the edges of the cookie dough over the top to completely seal it in the center.

Place the shaped cookies on the prepared baking sheets, 2-3 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are just golden brown at the edges, 10-12 minutes. When the cookies are finished baking, sprinkle lightly with additional sea salt. Let sit a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough as needed. Be sure to replace the remaining Nutella dollops in the freezer while waiting for cookies to bake. It softens fairly quickly otherwise.

A spoonful (or a cup) of Nutella: Chocolate Cake with Nutella Chocolate Ganache and Nutella Buttercream

Chocolate and peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and fluff…classic, time tested flavor combinations that will never fall out of favor. However, none of these come close to the creamy chocolate-hazelnut combination of Nutella. This genius (in my opinion) concoction was invented in the 1940s by Pietro Ferrero in Italy when he was forced to stretch the rationed supply of chocolate with chopped hazelnuts. (This is reminiscent of how red velvet cake came to be- bakers would add beet juice to cake to give it a darker color when chocolate supplies were scarce.) It was initially called “Pasta Gianduja” and then renamed “Nutella” in 1964. Since then, it has gained mass popularity in the US and around the world. There is even a “National Nutella Day” on February 5th! And Nutella was recently in the news when thieves in Germany stole 5 tons of it earlier this month.

My introduction to Nutella was in the form of crepes, filled with nutella and bananas or strawberries. However, in the past several years I have experimented with Nutella ice cream, Nutella quesadillas (2 flour tortillas with nutella and marshmallows in between, heated in a skillet until tortillas are lightly browned on both sides and marshmallows are melted), and more recently Nutella cupcakes (pictured below, recipe at www.baked-in.com).

My mom recently got me over 3 pounds of Nutella (not quite 5 tons but still a large amount) at Costco, so I needed a recipe to use it up (to deter me from just eating it by the spoonful from the jar). I’ve made a lot of cupcakes recently so I decided, instead, to make a cake. This is a chocolate cake flavored with hazelnut liquor, filled with a Nutella chocolate ganache, and covered in a Nutella swiss meringue buttercream (from the Nutella cupcakes pictured above). Before I continue on with the recipe, let me leave you with two disclaimers:

Disclaimer #1: This frosting recipe makes more than what is needed for the cake and I cannot be responsible for what is done with the leftovers (there might be a Nutella frosting food coma involved)!

Disclaimer #2: Despite some recent commercials touting Nutella as the key to a nutritious and healthy breakfast, Nutella unfortunately, is not a healthy chocolate spread. Apparently there’s actually a lawsuit surrounding this issue…but seriously, chocolate, hazelnut, palm oil- did someone really think this could be good for you?

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