I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas. As they all say: where did the year go? 2016 has been… a very *interesting* year of sorts. That’s the only word I can think of to describe it. Many highs, some monumental lows, and a lot of bouncing in between. I don’t think I’ve worked this hard in my entire life, and though I’m enjoying the winter break, I can’t help but feel a little bit restless, like there’s things I should be taking care of now that I’ll thank myself for getting done in the future.
Winter came at us in full force last month with some of the coldest and rainiest days I could remember. Not that I’m complaining, because I love rainy weather. On one particularly rainy night, I left the balcony door ajar and slept on the couch wrapped in all the faux fur blankets I could find. It also didn’t hurt to wake up to a clear blue sky – something that really only happens in the city after a good rain has gotten rid of all the smog in the air.
The second best part about this kind of weather are the sweaters. They’re just about my other most favorite thing in the world. I have an entire drawer to hold all of them and each come with their own stories. The oldest sweater in my collection is the tattered gray LMU hoodie I borrowed (and never returned) from a friend in my first year of college. A Disney sweatshirt reminds me of a trip to Anaheim where my then-roommate and I freezing and a little hungover, bought matching sweatshirts to survive our day at Disneyland. My green cashmere brings back memories of Christmas Eve 2012 in Hawaii, worn with a big red bow in my hair and later Iceland and the blizzard of snow and water around Seljalandsfoss. I even have a few kitchy ones like Mabel’s from Gravity Falls and the Pusheen one I received in the Fall Pusheen Box. I don’t think I’ll ever have too many sweaters and too many fond memories I want to keep, hidden away in a drawer for the days I need something to keep me cozy and warm.
I’ve been following @rymondtn’s delicious Instagram feed and was instantly inspired to make some festive reindeer doughnuts for the holidays this year. Speaking of, I have a little confession to share. I caved. I have been, not exactly what I would call a “fan”, but someone who’d never question candy melts because a) they got the job done and 9) they’re cheap. But this time around, when ready to dip the doughnuts, the candy melts proved disastrous and I had to scrap my entire first go at this. I decided that if I was going to try again, I was going to do it right and with quality chocolate. Enter: couverture chocolate. The queen of all chocolate, the *pinkies up* of the dessert world. I spent way too much money on three bars of white chocolate Valrhona (btw, let’s save the whole conversation on white chocolate not even really being chocolate for another day) and crossed my fingers that it would work because STUFF WAS EXPENSIVE OK.
The funny thing is, from the moment I started chopping the chocolate up to melting it and then watching it pour over the surface of each doughnut with such ease and silky smoothness, my whole world changed a little. I’m sorry candy melts, but I think I might be a chocolate snob now and I don’t know if I can ever feel the same way about you anymore. Though this is definitely now a future problem for my wallet. I guess what I’m saying is Merry Christmas and don’t forget to do something special for yourself this holiday season. We all need a little self indulgence and a little me-TLC. Why not splurge on a bar of the best chocolate you’ll ever have? Seriously though, please try a little of the fancy stuff if you’ve never had it… and baking at home with it – #lifechanger.
White Chocolate + Eggnog Reindeer Doughnuts
Recipe makes approximately 24 doughnuts.
for the eggnog doughnuts
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups eggnog (or 1 cup eggnog, 1 cup milk for lighter doughnuts)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease doughnut pans and either a cake pop/takoyaki pan and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the melted butter and sugars until just combined. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to beat well after each one. Mix in the eggnog and vanilla extract and continue to beat until the batter is even.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two additions and combine on the lowest mixer setting. The batter will be slightly thick. Do not over-mix the dough to avoid tough doughnuts.
4. Transfer the batter to a piping bag. Pipe the batter into the doughnut pans, filling them 1/2 to 2/3 of the way. Make sure to leave enough batter for the doughnut holes. Pipe the rest of the batter into the cake pop or takoyaki pan. Fill each hole about 1/3 of the way. You’ll need an even ratio of doughnuts to doughnut holes.
5. Bake for 10-13 minutes. Let the doughnuts and holes cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature to keep them from drying out.
coverture white chocolate, melted
red hots or red m&ms
48 mini candy canes
royal icing in black, pink, and white
6. Dip the flatter side of each donut hole into the melted chocolate and secure it to the center of each doughnut. Cut two slits where desired placement of the ears are. Dip one end of an almond in the melted chocolate and push it into the slit for the ears. Let the chocolate set.
7. Once the chocolate has dried, drip more melted chocolate over the entire doughnut making sure to tap off any excess. Transfer to a wire rack over a baking tray. Add a red hot or red m&m for the nose.
8. When all the chocolate has set, gently wiggle in two candy canes between the ears for antlers. Use royal icing to pipe out the eyes, mouth, and cheeks.