I know that I’ve professed my love for Whole Foods here before, but really, once is not enough.
I make an event out of my trips to Whole Foods. Sometimes I get dressed up. I usually wear lipstick. I may or may not have a crush on the produce department but nobody needs to know that. I would be beyond embarrassed if someone found out that I sometimes write about heirloom tomatoes in my diary. Or that I have this reoccurring basil dream. Or that one time when I was trying to decide between red or green kale I… wait. Oh no. This is so awkward.
I’m talking about Whole Foods today because last week, in the citrus section, I finally found my first bag of Meyer Lemons. I could have cried. It felt like I just saw a sign that said: “Free room full of Christian Louboutin pumps, Mac lipstick, and gift cards to Neiman Marcus.” I’m pretty sure there was a Hallelujah Chorus present because when I spotted those tangy hybrid oddities, I swear I heard singing from the heavens. Meyer lemons, for those of you who think I’ve gone mad and made up my own citrus fruit, are Japanese hybrids of regular lemons and mandarin oranges. They’re little, smooth, deep yellowy-orange in color, and much sweeter than regular lemons. They have a distinct perfume-y smell, and make things sound fancy and gourmet (!).
According to my taste buds, lemon curd is king of the dessert kingdom. I couldn’t imagine doing anything with my first bag of Meyer lemons but cooking them down into Meyer lemon curd… and then using it to fill the most precious baby doughnuts ever. Mini things, rare lemons, hot oil… it was an all around good time.
Bless you, Meyer Lemons.
Meyer Lemon Doughnuts
Adapted from Gourmet, December 1999 & December 2006
**If you can’t find Meyer lemons, regular lemons would do just fine. I’d increase add a few extra tablespoons of sugar into the lemon curd, just to be safe.
For the lemon curd:
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
2 teaspoons Meyer lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Small pinch of kosher salt
Place the zest, juice, sugar, salt, and eggs in a metal bowl. Whisk away. Add in the butter, clamp on an instant-read thermometer, and set the bowl over a tiny pot of simmering water. Don’t ever stop whisking gently or you’ll end up with a layer of scrambled eggs on the edge of your bowl. Keep cooking and stirring until it’s thick, and the thermometer reads 160°F, 5-10 minutes. Place a fine-mesh sieve over another metal bowl and press the curd through it with a rubber spatula. Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap, cool completely, and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the doughnuts:
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons warm water (105–115°F)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for sprinkling and rolling out dough
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar + 3/4 cup to roll the finished doughnuts in
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
About 10 cups vegetable oil for deep frying
Stir together yeast and warm water in a small bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
Mix together flour, milk, butter, yolks, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and yeast mixture in mixer at low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more.
Scrape dough into a ball in the center of the bowl, then sprinkle lightly with flour to keep a crust from forming. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in bowl in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours.)
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out as many rounds as possible with a small round cookie cutter (mine was about 2 inches in diameter). Transfer doughnuts to a lightly floured large baking sheet. Cover doughnuts with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes (45 minutes if dough was cold when cutting out doughnuts). Do not reroll scraps (if you feel bad wasting them, don’t hesitate to fry the extra scraps and then roll them in cinnamon-sugar…)
Heat 2 1/2 inches oil in a deep 4-quart heavy pot until it registers 350°F on thermometer. Fry doughnuts, 3-4 at a time, turning occasionally with a wire or mesh skimmer or a slotted spoon, until puffed and golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. (Return oil to 350°F between batches.) Let cool.
Once the doughnuts are completely cool, get creative to fill them with the lemon curd. I used plastic squeeze bottles with long tips, but a long-tipped pastry bag, mini baster, or flavor injector (food syringe type situation) could work just as well. Alternatively, you could poke a large hole in each doughnut with a skewer and use a small funnel or spoon and steady hand to fill the doughnuts. There are about a million ways to go about this, so use your imagination! When the doughnuts are filled, roll them liberally in granulated sugar (powdered sugar could be delicious, too) and enjoy.
Life’s short. Fry things.