These are definitely dessert doughnuts. Topped with a classic cream cheese frosting and caramelized walnuts, they are a treat to be enjoyed at the end of a meal.
Courtesy of Anna Olson
Cream Cheese Frosting
For the doughnuts, place all of the ingredients (except the vegetable oil) in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the hook attachment and mix on low speed until blended, then increase speed one level and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Alternatively, you can blend the ingredients by hand and then turn out the dough onto a floured surface to knead until smooth, about 6 minutes. Place the dough into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for about 90 minutes or until doubled.
While dough is rising, prepare Caramelized Walnuts.
To cut the doughnuts, turn the risen dough out onto a floured surface and roll to ¾ -inch thickness. Cut doughnuts using a 3-inch cutter and cut a hole out of the centre. Re-roll any scraps (the holes can be re-worked into the dough, or fried as doughnut holes). Cover the doughnuts with a tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat vegetable oil to 350ºF in a tabletop fryer, or in a deep pot over medium high heat (fill the pot with 2 inches of oil). Carefully drop in a few doughnuts, leaving enough space so that they do not touch, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Lift the doughnuts onto a cooling rack with a paper-towel lined tray underneath to drain and cool and continue to cook the remaining doughnuts in batches. Allow the doughnuts to cool before frosting.
While the dough is rising, prepare the walnuts. Place the walnut pieces on a parchment-lined baking tray and hold in a warm (250ºF) oven while caramelizing the sugar. Bring the sugar, water and lemon juice up to a full boil over high heat and boil, uncovered and without stirring, until an amber colour. As the sugar boils, brush the sides of the pot with water on occasion. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the warm walnuts to coat. Quickly turn the walnuts out onto the baking tray and spread out to cool.
For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe frosting on the top of each doughnut. Top them with the caramelized walnut pieces.