What was your first job? I’m interested if you’re willing to share. First jobs are like windows into the soul. Wait. Nope. (I'm notoriously bad with idioms.) But they are usually entertaining insight into the past of the people you love. One of my husband’s first jobs was as the assistant manager of his local Electro Lux franchise. That illustrious title also earned him the responsibility of door-to-door vacuum sales. I think he was around 16. Can you please imagine buying a vacuum from a 16-year-old boy? How many teenage boys do you know who are experts at vacuuming? Hmm. I wish I could go back in time and answer the door to his earnest “this one has powerful suction” spiel. My heart swells with affection just imagining it. Alas, it was an honest living for all of one day. He didn’t sell any vacuums and he quit the same day he started. Think of how dust free our apartment could have been today if only he had found his calling.
My first real paycheck job was at a doughnut shop about 5 minutes from my house. Besides the early morning hours and the thick fog of cigarette smoke that filled the shop every day (remember the old days of smoking inside?), I loved that job. Perks galore. I worked with my friend Devorah, the uniform was made up of a fetching neon green and orange polo with gleaming white pants, and sometimes, on the luckiest of days, we were allowed to decorate the doughnuts. Frying was our supervisor's job but many a chocolate-dipped sprinkle doughnut got its glimmer from my handiwork. Fun on top of fun. Dev and I passed the time by making up exceptionally witty names for the regulars (like “Plant Guy” for the cute guy from the garden shop next door) and took pride in having their coffee orders memorized before they could ask for them. Some of the really real regulars would sit at the counter for hours, chain-smoking, and telling us the great stories of their lives. Those were some sweet Sunday mornings. Added bonus: I am now a subtraction genius thanks to the old fashioned cash register that didn’t calculate change. Subtraction under pressure! I've still got the gift. You can quiz me.
It makes perfect sense that I would have found myself behind the counter of a doughnut shop at 16. I always gravitate towards dough and let my sweet teeth guide me. They usually lead me to good things. They're still leading me towards doughnuts. Molten chocolate doughnut holes to be exact. Darn. Good. Things.
You too can make these puffy sugar dough babies! Nothing to fear. The yeasty dough comes together easily with the help of a stand mixer and then you just forget about it for a while. Overnight is ideal for both you and the dough. Just wrap it up, give it a kiss, and let it sleep for 12 hours. When it’s time to make the doughnuts, take that cold slab of buttery yellow dough, roll it out, and cut it into little squares.
Things are about to get interesting.
I heart a cream filled doughnut. Jam-filled. Love-filled. To make a cream-filled doughnut, you have to make a cream, wait for your freshly fried doughnuts to cool slightly, make a channel in the doughnut, and then use a pastry bag to fill each puff. Not a ton of work but more than I felt like doing last Sunday. I wanted to read the paper AND make doughnuts. So I decided to stuff each dough square with a couple of chocolate féves. (A few pieces of any favorite chocolate bar would be perfect.) The chocolate melts while the doughnut holes fry and the results are nothing short of outstanding. No filling necessary. Just eating. And the eating becomes compulsory. I should know. I saw the pile of doughnuts I made. I saw how many were left. And I'm really good at subtraction.
Molten Chocolate Doughnut Holes
Makes about 30
3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed slightly (no hotter than 110°)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened at room temperature
4 to 8 ounces milk or bittersweet chocolate pieces (depends on how much chocolate you’d like in each)
vegetable oil for frying
3/4 cups sugar
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, milk, and 1/2 cup flour. Let rest 30 minutes, or until the yeast is nice and foamy. Add eggs, yolks, sugar, salt, and remaining flour to the bowl and mix on low speed using the dough hook. Knead the dough on medium-low speed about 2 minutes more.
2. Add butter, a piece or two at a time. (It may look like it’s not getting in there but don’t worry, it will; just keep adding and mixing. You might have to stop the mixer and knead the butter in with your hands for a minute to get it started.) Once incorporated, increase speed to medium and knead dough for another minute, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (and up to 12 hours).
3. Once dough has rested, place it on a very lightly floured work surface and roll it into a 12 1/2–by-15 -inch rectangle. It should be about 1/2- inch thick. Cut the dough into 30 2 1/2-inch squares. Place a piece or two of chocolate in the center of each square. Wrap the dough up around the chocolate and pinch to seal. Roll the dough into a ball and transfer to two parchment-lined baking sheets. Lightly cover with plastic and set in a warm, draft-free place to double in size. This could take 30 minutes or 2 hours, depending on how warm your house is and how cold the dough was. (I like to use the warming drawer in my oven.)
4. When you’re ready to fry, line a rimmed baking sheet (or a few plates) with paper towels. Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot to 350°F. One by one, gently transfer a doughnut (without deflating it) to a slotted spoon and lower it into the oil. Add 2 or 3 more doughnuts and then fry 1 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels with a slotted spoon. After about 1 minute, when doughnuts are cool enough to handle, toss in sugar. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve warm and melty.