Let’s talk about Philadelphia’s Federal Donuts, the fried chicken and donut eatery by the man behind modern Israeli restaurant Zahav restaurant to Philadelphia. Michael Solomonov’s latest collection of recipes chronicles the story behind this culinary game-changer, from different styles of spiced fried bird to the shop’s most popular glazes and toppings. Check out our donut-centric interview with Solomonov on our daily podcast, and fry up a batch of your own chocolate éclair donuts.
Named for the novelty ice cream bar — not the French pastry — this recipe uses our chocolate cake batter. It’s the same process as our master donut recipe but uses cocoa powder instead of baharat. This recipe is a major breakthrough for us. Though more than one Fednuts partner considers our milk glaze on a chocolate donut to be the platonic ideal.
THREE STEPS TO GLAZING PERFECTION
Just remember: Cool Donuts, Warm Glaze
- Improvise a double boiler by adding about 2 inches of water to a saucepan and setting it over medium heat. Bring the water to a simmer.
- Place a bowl of glaze over the saucepan and heat through. Use your fingertips to glaze each cooled donut (see below).
- Cool the glazed donuts on a rack set over a paper towel–lined baking sheet until the glaze is dry, about 10 minutes.
GLAZING 101: IT’S ALL IN THE WRIST
Glazing donuts is all about attitude and confidence. A Fednuts artisan can glaze a dozen donuts without breaking eye contact with the customer. Follow these steps and now you can, too!
- Hold the bottom of the donut with your fingertips and submerge the top in warm glaze a little more than halfway up the sides.
- Remove the donut from the glaze and, with a twist of the wrist, turn it right side up, allowing the excess glaze to wrap around the sides and bottom of the donut.
- Transfer the glazed donut to a wire rack and let the glaze set for about 10 minutes.
Chocolate Cake Donut Batter
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 12 large egg yolks
- 3 cups finely crushed Nilla Wafers
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoon Dutch cocoa powder
Vanilla Cream Glaze
- 3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the donuts
Combine the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can certainly use a hand mixer, or even a sturdy whisk, instead.
Mix on low speed until ribbons start to form in the mixture and the color lightens, about 3 minutes. Slowly stream in the melted butter until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.
Add the buttermilk all at once. Mix again just to combine, about 5 seconds.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the 3 1/2 cups flour, chocolate powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add to the mixer all at once and mix on low speed until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again on medium-low until the dough looks smooth and starts to pull away from sides of the bowl, 20 to 30 seconds.
Prepare a counter work space by fastening a large piece of parchment paper with tape at the corners. Have the 1 cup of flour nearby to use as needed. Generously flour the work surface.
Scrape down the paddle attachment and turn all the batter out onto the floured surface. Dust the top of the dough with more flour, sprinkling the edges as well. Flour your hands well, too.
With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle, about 10 by 14 1/2 inches. Add more flour to prevent sticking. Brush the excess flour off the dough and parchment paper with a pastry brush. Transfer the dough on the paper to the back of a baking sheet and slide it into the freezer for up to 30 minutes.
We use two sizes of ring cutters to make our donut shapes: the larger about 2 3/4 inches in diameter, and a 1-inch cutter for the holes. (Feel free to use a drinking glass and a shot glass.) Flour the cutters well and often to prevent sticking. Begin with the large cutter, then cut out the smaller holes. Return the baking sheet with the dough rings to the freezer until ready to fry. (At this point, the frozen rings can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the freezer for up to 2 days. Let thaw slightly before frying.)
The dough scraps can be gathered together and rerolled, or cut into small, irregular shapes and fried as they are.
Clip a candy or deep-frying thermometer onto one side of a big enameled cast-iron pot and add 2 to 3 inches canola or peanut oil. Heat over medium-low until the oil reaches 375°F.
Carefully lift the dough rights with a spatula and slide them into the oil, about 4 at a time, depending on the size of your pot. After about 90 seconds, the edges will begin to brown; flip the donuts with a slotted spoon. Fry for another 90 seconds until golden brown and delightfully puffy. (Donut holes take 60 to 90 seconds and tend to flip themselves.) With a slotted spoon, transfer the donuts on a rack set over a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Reheat the oil to 375°F before cooking the next batch.
Let the donuts cool, and glaze. While the glaze is still wet, toss each donut in the Éclair Crumbs until well coated.
For the éclair crumbs
Mix 2 cups of the Nilla Wafer crumbs, half the butter, and 1½ teaspoons of the salt in a large bowl until all the butter is absorbed by the crumbs. Into a separate bowl, place the remaining wafer crumbs, remaining butter, remaining salt, and the cocoa powder and mix well. Let cool so the cocoa doesn’t “bleed” into the white crumbs. Combine the contents of both bowls and mix well.
For the glaze
Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth.