December 1st is when most people start getting into the holiday spirit, some a little earlier than others. My sister, Ashley, I think she puts her holiday music into rotation just before Halloween. This works for me, as she has become my clear indication that I need to be thinking about winter holiday doughnuts.
Here in Doughnutland we start with a whole lot of brainstorming. This year my staff and I got really excited about potential deliciousness as we swapped childhood memories, like eating too many candy canes and trying to eat as many rum balls as possible before getting caught by Mom. I started dreaming about having my own personal stash of creamy soft organic eggnog sitting in the fridge, tempting me. Our memories and dreams usually lead us to a few doughnut possibilities that are a bit too far reaching and lofty. Then, as usual, someone comes up with a really great boozy doughnut idea.
All of this is tempered after we scratch out the crazy and ridiculous ideas and begin the search for proper certified organic ingredients. In order to narrow things down even further, we ask ourselves some tough questions: “do we seriously want to do an eggnog doughnut?” I’ve seen eggnog cookies, eggnog loaf, eggnog bars, eggnog candy canes, eggnog cheesecake…Really?
After all, I think eggnog is good two ways: straight up or over ice with rum.
Then we get down to the business of making doughnuts. Testing, testing, testing. I usually eat way too many doughnuts at this stage, but it is all in the name of kitchen science. At this point we usually have a lot of doughnuts that just flat out fail and a few that we are happy with and are willing to consider. Most still need a little spice or fruit or sprinkle bits, but for the most part we are in the homestretch.
This year the process led to not one, but two, holiday-themed doughnuts. Our Cranberry Glaze begins with a spiced doughnut that includes the typical suspects; cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, but hidden quietly in the back is a bit of sage. This is topped with a not too sweet cranberry glaze and then drizzled with a reduced cranberry puree. Then there is the Chocolate Candy Cane – a chocolate doughnut topped with a white chocolate peppermint frosting. Smooth frosting with enough cool peppermint that it doesn’t take over, topped with just enough candy cane, to give it that little crunch – but not make your teeth ache.
At last it is time for everyone’s favorite part: TASTING!!!!! Which is sometimes followed by more testing, and then more tasting. I know, tough huh?
At this point I start to get a little anxious, like an expecting father at the nine month mark. Is it a good looking doughnut? What will we name it? Will people like it?
Finally after they are all done and the final recipe is in ink, I can relax. I usually sit down with an Americano and enjoy just a couple more doughnuts.
Oh, but then we start all over… Valentines Day. Hmmm? Perhaps a doughnut inspired by my first girlfriend who dumped me at the grade 7 Valentines Day dance. Nah… this next one will be for my wife.