A perfect celebration of Chocolate Week, these light-as-air doughnuts hide a rich unadulterated chocolate centre that allows the nuances and unique flavour notes of the chocolate to sing. The recipe requires some time and effort, but a freshly made doughnut is a delicacy worth working for. As featured in Telegraph Food and Drink.
Makes 9 to 10 doughnuts
For the dough:
250g strong white bread flour
1 tsp ground sea salt
20g caster sugar
7g (1 sachet) of dried yeast
80g unsalted butter, cubed and softened, OR if mixing by hand, gently melted and mixed with the water
2 litres sunflower or vegetable oil
A thermometer suitable for hot oil
Coconut or caster sugar (storing your caster sugar in a jar alongside a vanilla pod makes for an extra special sprinkle).
225g of 70% dark chocolate,
Place the flour into the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with its dough hook. If you do not have a mixer, proceed undeterred with a large bowl and clean hands.
Place the salt and sugar on one side of the flour, and the yeast to the other. Pour in the water (mixed with the melted butter if mixing by hand), add the eggs and then combine everything at a low speed, or with a clawed hand. Turn up to a medium speed for around 8 minutes, or scrape and squish with your hands until you have a glossy and elastic ball of dough that although moist, has mostly freed itself from the sides of the bowl. Turn off the mixer.
If you are mixing by hand, at this stage transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and start kneading like there’s no tomorrow (it helps to see each ten minutes of kneading as your ticket to an extra doughnut). Otherwise turn the mixer to a medium speed and add the softened butter, a few cubes at a time, until it is thoroughly lost in the dough. Turn your mixer (or arms) to high speed and mix for 5 minutes or until you have a deliciously shiny, stretchy dough that slides suggestively off the hook and quivers in the bowl.
Cover the bowl with clingfilm and place in a warm place for approximately one hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Knock the air out of the dough with a quick knead, before re-covering the bowl and placing in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Next day, tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface and divide it into 50g portions – you should get 9 or 10. Roll the pieces into smooth balls and place on a floured baking tray, leaving a good distance between each. Drape with clingfilm and leave somewhere warm until they have doubled, or at least noticeably increased in size (an hour or so). Once they’re looking swell, gently loosen them from the tray, being careful not to lose all the lovely air.
*tip: if you struggle to find a suitable proving spot in your house, turn your oven on for a few minutes until it is gently warmed, turn it off and place the bowl or tray inside, leaving the door open.
Now dig out your deep fat fryer or a large heavy-based saucepan and fill to half way with oil. Before turning on the heat, clear all children, pets and clumsy people from the room – hot oil is a fearsome foe and should never be left unattended: have everything ready so you don’t get in a flap once you start frying. We suggest a production line of plates next to the stove - one with kitchen towel, one with sugar and one for finished items.
Heat the oil to 180 C. This is important because much less and they will soak in the oil, more and they will burn, so a metal-tipped or infrared thermometer is necessary.
Using a metal slotted spoon, very carefully and one at a time place 2 – 3 doughnuts into the hot oil. Cook for a minute or two on the first side until they are puffed with air and a lovely golden brown colour, before turning and dunking them if they are frisky.
Remove on to the kitchen paper, check the oil is still at the right temperature and repeat until you have a big pile of warm doughnuts. Turn off the oil, and while the doughnuts are still warm toss them in caster or coconut sugar.
Allow to cool while getting on with the filling.
N.B. This is a miraculous technique, which once learned means that wherever there is chocolate, there is dessert.
Place the chocolate and water in a pan and melt over a low heat. Meanwhile, find one large and one medium sized bowl. In the large bowl place some ice and water, and then sit the medium bowl on top – the icy water should come about halfway up its sides.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the medium bowl and using an electric or balloon whisk, whip until you have a chocolate mousse the texture of whipped cream. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag.
*If you over-whip or split just return the mixture to the pan and start again.
Now for the really fun bit: Peirce a hole in the side of each doughnut with a knife and wiggle your finger in to create your chocolate chamber. Push the snout of the piping bag into the hole and fill with a greedy squeeze of the mousse. Briefly admire all your hard work, and then devour.