July 19, 2011
Today is my wedding anniversary, so I decided to make sure that our food theme would be extra-luxurious! I can’t think of anything more luxurious than chocolate! Since we made plans to get together with some school friends during the day (I refuse to use the word “playdate,” by the way - I could write a sermon on that one!), we organized two chocolate activities: making chocolate donuts in the morning and molding chocolate lollipops and treats in the afternoon.
Chocolate Donut Morning
I hadn’t planned on making donuts at all. Actually, I thought that we might make modeling chocolate and create little animals with it. [We had done this once a few years ago, over March break.] But, on Monday, I happened to pass by a sidewalk sale. For some time now, I’ve been wanting to purchase pans for baking donuts. Still, I had been loath to do so. The high price just didn’t meet the functionality. How often are you really going to want to bake donuts? However, when I saw a set of three donut pans reduced from $5.99 to $2.99 on one of the sale tables, I just knew it was meant to be!!!
The as-seen-on-tv pans were fabulous! However, the recipes and the instructions that came with them were only published in Czech and Hungarian! A trip to the company’s website produced neither a link to the pans (they must be discontinued) nor any instruction sheets. So, the kids and I searched the internet and found some fabulous recipes! We decided to double the Baked Chocolate Cake Donuts recipe on Lara Ferroni’s lovely site, with a few tweaks.
After setting our convection oven to 350, we sprayed our regular sized donut tin (6 donuts) and our mini muffin tin (12 minis) with baking spray. Then, we placed a scant tablespoon of lemon juice in the bottom of a half cup measure, filled the rest of the measure with milk, and stirred it – this would be our substitute for the buttermilk in the original recipe! We also set aside 4 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl. The kids really liked hacking away at our giant block of unsalted butter!
Next, we stirred together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Then, we added 1 cup of white sugar and 1/3 cup of brown sugar (we ran out of the white!) into the mixture. Ferroni also calls for the addition of nutmeg, but my kids don’t like it (at least when they know we’re using it), so we left it out. The next step was the most exciting! The kids added the butter by rubbing it into the dry ingredients until the mixture felt like coarse meal! What fun!!
After we washed our sticky fingers, we whisked together the sour milk, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and 2 large eggs in a separate bowl. Then, inspired by a similar donut recipe we had seen on Amy Clark’s Motherload Blog, I thought that I would add something special to the mix. So, I sent the kids out of the room and mixed up about a teaspoon of instant espresso powder with a few tablespoons of very hot water. I added about 2 teaspoons of this ready-made coffee to the mix to make up for the missing nutmeg!!
At last, we poured our wet mixture into our flour mixture and folded the ingredients with a spatula until just combined. We filled a ziplock bag with the batter, cut off a corner of the bag, and piped the donut batter into the donut tins until each form was about 1/2-way full. We baked these for 9 minutes in our oven and then cooled them for a few minutes on a wire rack.
Pass It On: My favourite method to decorate cakes with powdered sugar is to fill a single serving loose-tea-ball with a few teaspoonfulls of sugar and then to shake the tea-ball over the tops of the donuts!
Et voila! The kids had a “second breakfast,” 1/2 of a large donut each. We brought the minis over to our friend’s house for an afternoon snack!!!
Donut Ingredients Recap
- 2 c all purpose flour
- 4 tbs cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/3 c sugar (mix white/brown)
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbs butter
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 2 tbs hot water
- 1/2 c buttermilk or sour milk
- 1/2 c plain yogurt
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- icing (powdered) sugar __________________________________________________
Chocolate Lollipops & Loot Bag Animals
A few years ago, I wrote the kids a story about a bear who wanted to become a chocolatier. Ever since then, the kids have been asking to make chocolates at home. This was the afternoon to try! Since my son’s birthday party is coming up this weekend, I wanted to make this a double-duty project. I decided to have them make lollipops to eat immediately (and to keep around the house) and some small chocolate animals to include in the party loot bags!
The first step was to melt our chocolate! Now, you can buy chocolate and temper it yourself, but this is too much work for little chefs! We just picked up a large sac of molding chocolate at our local bulk store. (Works just as well with a bag of chocolate chips!) Then, on the stove, I placed a durable glass bowl on the top of a pot of boiling water. I invited the kids to pour their chocolate drops into the bowl and stir them, with guidance, until they were completely melted.
After the chocolate had melted, I allowed my daughter to ladle the chocolate “lava” into a pair of funnels that I had set up over a pair of squeeze bottles.
Each of the kids filled two sets of chocolate molds using their squeeze bottles. For the lollipop chocolates, we placed paper sticks onto the sides of each mold, rotating them once so as to cover the portion of the stick that would be encased in the chocolate. For the chocolate animals, we just squeezed the chocolate to the fill line and then smoothed the surface with a leftover lollipop stick.
Chocolate molds? What, are you kidding? If you don’t have chocolate molds at home, you can easily make some with things you already have around the house! Ice cube trays, plastic containers or their lids, silicon muffin pans, plastic toy packaging (ie the molds that cover the bodies of toys), candy dishes…It would be a game in itself just to have the kids look around for something to use!
After we had exhausted our resources, we placed our molds in the refrigerator for about an hour. Then, we popped some lollipops out and ate them!! The loot-bag animals are now in a container in the refrigerator, awaiting (temporary) liberation.