It’s here! It’s here! Day #1 of my St. Patrick’s Day countdown of Irish-y recipes. And ya’ll, I’m starting off with a great one! Who doesn’t swoon at the thought of Buttermilk Doughnuts? And these particular Buttermilk Doughnuts are filled with a Chocolate & Raspberry Jam that will bring tears to your eyes. Now I’m sure some of you folks out there in internet land are saying “Uh…How are Chocolate Raspberry Doughnuts particularly Irish?” Well now, keep your britches on for a just a minute and I will make the Irish connection clear.
The food scene in Ireland today is really changing rapidly. For such a long time when one spoke of Irish cuisine, bland boiled meat and potato was the unfortunate stereotype. But now a days I think most folks are aware that there is a real food renaissance going on in Ireland. The traditional Irish dishes, which were always rustic and filling but were for quite some time ignored, are being revived and served in the most hip restaurants to be found. You see, that wonderful mild climate that gives the country such gorgeous green vistas also produces an abundance of world-class fresh ingredients from wonderful grass-fed beef and dairy cows to gorgeous fresh fruit and vegetables. There is an emphasis on seasonal, locally sourced, quality food. And this new-found emphasis on fresh and local has created a resurgence in artisan producers. In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of farmers markets in the country. Now farmers markets are amazing because you often get to meet the actual people who grow and craft the delicious food you are purchasing. (Lets take another look at those doughnuts…)
Last October, Jay and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel over to Ireland to visit friends and family. Much to our delight, The 6th Annual Dingle Peninsula Food Festival was taking place while we were there. Now, if you are planning a trip to Ireland, let me just say, the Dingle Peninsula is a must see for your trip. National Geographic has declared it “the most beautiful place on earth” and it is ranked as one of Trip Advisors “Top 100 destinations in the world”.
So, if you can manage to plan it so that you are there during the Food Festival, it will just be icing on the cake. The little town of Dingle really turns out for the festival! They have a “Taste Trail” which encompasses over 60 locations from pubs to galleries to shops. Walking that food trail was incredibly fun and tasty! The way it works is that you buy a book of taste tickets and then set off on the trail. Each location has a sample of featured local cuisine. We had kangaroo skewers (betcha didn’t know there were kangaroos in Ireland huh?), Spinach and Gruyère crepes and charming butterfly cakes, a pint or two of micro brew, plus many other tasty delicacies. We could barely waddle back home! But in addition to the food trail frenzy, there are cookery demonstrations, food workshops, live music, the Farmers Forum, farmer’s/food markets and the Annual Blas Na hÉireann (Taste of Ireland): National Irish Food Awards. Blas Na hÉireann is the biggest competition of its type in Ireland. The prestigious awards, given as gold, silver and bronze in over 60 categories, are considered to be the ultimate benchmark of quality Irish produce and its passionate producers.. That’s where the Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves that I used to fill my lovely Buttermilk doughnuts come in. (Ahhh…it’s getting clearer…) My friend Theresa and her family own The Green Apron, a small artisan preserve company located Derryclough, Ballingarry, (overlooking Knockfierna – the famous fairy hill) in County Limerick, Ireland. She makes those stunning preserves, which won a silver award in the Blas Na hÉireann Jams, Marmalades and Conserves category! That in itself was fantastic, but she didn’t stop there. Oh no. Theresa also won the Gold in that same category for her Apricot, Orange & Almond Conserve,
Theresa & her daughter Athene accepting the Gold and Silver Awards
and she won a Silver in the Dips & Seasonings category for her Italian Butter Mix and last but not least The Green Apron won Best in Farmer’s Market for Small Producers for their stand in the Limerick Milk Market.
Four awards! Woohoo!!! Over that exciting weekend Theresa also taught a cookery class entitled “Preserving Your Harvest” and was able to man The Green Apron stall, with the help of family and friends. I tell you, she is unstoppable! I was lucky enough to bring a jar of the award-winning Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves, with a clear Irish pedigree, back home with me. Now, I must confess, I can’t tell you the recipe for it. No, no, no. Top secret and all. Well, I guess I could divulge it, but then would have to track you down and kill you all before Theresa was able to take me out. What I will say, is that if you are in Ireland, you simply must get ahold of a jar. You can find the Green Apron in the Limerick Milk Market every Saturday. They also do some other markets and fairs from time to time, so check their Facebook page for updates. Or you can email Theresa directly to discuss the possibilities of mail order. For all of you in other locales, if you’re in Ireland, try to catch her at the Milk Market, or you can find her at the next Dingle Peninsula Food Festival.
Otherwise, you’ll just have to find your own favourite, scrumptious jam to fill your doughnuts with. Check out your local farmer’s markets and I’m sure you’ll find some wonderful artisan producers. Or get busy and make up a batch of your favourite fruit. A quality jam will make all the difference in your doughnuts. I can remember I wouldn’t go anywhere near a jam or jelly filled anything when I was younger. It was something about the texture and that fact that the jelly tasted sort of plastic and not like any particular fruit. If it was supposedly strawberry or raspberry, it often just tasted vaguely “pink”. There was never any real fruit flavour shining through, just sweet goo. That is not the case with my Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts. Not only is the cake portion of the doughnut moist and tender, but it is also bursting with vibrant raspberry preserves, with a rich chocolate undertones.
For those of you who just can’t get enough chocolate, I dipped several of my doughnuts in a chocolate glaze. I also covered some with granulated sugar. Now you know how parents supposedly don’t favour one child over another, or at least would never admit to it? Well, I gotta say, whilst the sugar tossed doughnuts are lovely, but the chocolate glazed, Chocolate & Raspberry filled ones will make you go weak in the knees!
These doughnuts are baked, not fried, sooo….I guess that means they’re good for you? Alright, it probably means they are less bad for you than their deep-fried cousins, which you will not miss in the least, especially not the calories and fat part, after you get a bite of these much trimmer little devils. There is no yeast involved, so you don’t have to worry with rise times. And the recipe is flexible, if you don’t have a doughnut pan, you can make these up as muffins and stuff them full of the jam of your choice as well.
Easy and Delicious! Now that’s what I like to hear!
Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts
yield: 8 doughnuts
Recipe adapted from: The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book
For the doughnuts:
- 7 Tablespoons (3 1/2 oz/105 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 Cup (5 oz./155 grams) sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) buttermilk
- 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Green Apron’s Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves (or your favourite preserve)
For the toppings:
- 4 Tablespoons melted butter
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon hot water
Preheat the oven to 350° F (180°C). Grease Doughnut pan with butter or butter-flavoured nonstick cooking spray.
In stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating well to incorporate until pale and smooth.
In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add to the butter mixture in two additions, alternating with the butter milk and vanilla. Stir just until evenly moistened. the batter will be slightly lumpy.
Spoon batter into each doughnut cavity until it is 1/3 full. Place Green Apron’s Chocolate & Raspberry Preserve (our your favourite jam) in a pastry bag and pipe a line of the preserves in the center of each doughnut. Cover the preserves with doughnut batter until each cavity is approximately 2/3 full. Don’t overfill the individual doughnut cups or you’ll lose the doughnut shape during baking.
Bake the doughnuts for 10-12 minutes or until the top of the doughnut spring back when touched. Let them cool in the pan for 4-5 minutes before removing.
To add sugar-coating:
Place granulated sugar in ziplock bag. Dip the cooled doughnut in melted butter. Place doughnut in bag and gently turn until coated with sugar.
To Glaze with chocolate:
In medium bowl, microwave chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup on 50% power for 1 minute. Stir until completely melted. Add hot water and mix until the glaze is smooth. If glaze is too thick, add more water until it reaches desired consistency.
Dip doughnuts into chocolate and place on wire rack until glaze has hardened.