Valentine's Day is just around the corner and so is my school's tradition of  Heart-o-grams, a singing telegram that interrupts classes throughout the day. This Valentine's Day me and a few friends are going to be a singing group delivering these telegrams. I'm super excited, and can't wait to show off the songs we have been working on.

For the new dessert, I saw these on Pinterest, and just about freaked. Cheesecake filled doughnuts! If you haven't been a reader of this blog, I post a ton of cheesecake recipes (probably too many!) but it is too good to pass up!

These doughnuts can be a tad bit tricky though, as I had never "woken up" yeast before and the recipe was very vague. I got the idea to gather together a couple of baking how to's and keeping a running page of the blog of different things I come across that are tough to figure out. I'm hoping to get that page up within a week or so, so check back soon!

Cheesecake Filled Doughnuts

For the Doughnuts:
7 gm (about 1 sachet) dried yeast
Pinch of sugar.
170 ml lukewarm milk
55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar
40 gm butter, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
350 gm (2 cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

*Stir a pinch of sugar and 60ml warm water (100 to 110 degrees F.) in a bowl to combine. Add yeast and stir vigorously until combined. Cover with a towel and and set aside until foamy (5-7 minutes). Place in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook with milk, sugar, butter, egg, half the flour and 1 tsp fine sea salt, and knead on low speed, gradually adding remaining flour, until a sticky dough forms (4-5 minutes; dough will be quite wet). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, dust with a little extra flour, form into a ball, then transfer to a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and towel. Then, set aside in a warm place until doubled in size (1-1½ hours).
Roll out dough on a floured surface to a thickness of 1.5cm. Cut out rounds with a floured 8cm-diameter cutter and place 2cm apart on trays lined with baking paper. Re-roll scraps and repeat, then cover and set aside until doubled in size (45 minutes to 1 hour).

For the Salted Caramel:
200 gm caster sugar
60 gm salted butter, coarsely chopped
125 ml (½ cup) half and half

For salted caramel, stir sugar and 60ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and cook until caramel colored (4-5 minutes). Swirl the pan for more even caramelization, and brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any crystallizing sugar. Add butter, whisk to combine, then add cream (be careful, mixture will foam up) and 1 tsp sea salt or to taste and whisk to combine. Pour into a jar or even into a gravy boat to cool for easy pouring later on.

For the Cheesecake Filling:
250 gm cream cheese, at room temperature
100 gm strained whole milk ricotta
40 gm granulated sugar
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon or 1 tsp. vanilla (depending on what flavor you want, I used the lemon, however the vanilla would be great too!)

For cheesecake filling, process all ingredients in a small food processor until smooth, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 5mm plain nozzle and set aside.

For the Cinnamon Sugar Crumb:
220 gm (1 cup) caster sugar
30 gm butter cookies (about 3), coarsely crushed
1 tsp ground cinnamon

For cinnamon sugar crumb, combine all ingredients and ½ tsp salt in a bowl, then spread on a tray and set aside.

For Deep-Frying:
vegetable oil

Heat oil in a large saucepan or deep-fryer to 315 degrees F. Deep-fry doughnuts in batches of 4, turning once, until golden and cooked through (3-4 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Transfer with a slotted spoon to cinnamon sugar crumb and toss to coat. Allow to cool.
Pierce base of each doughnut with piping tube and pipe a little cheesecake filling into each and serve warm with salted caramel, scattered with extra cinnamon crumb.
Serve as soon as possible and they are best eaten the day they are made.

Recipe Notes: 

*This took me a while to figure out as this was my first time trying to activate yeast. I found that my cold counter top was cooling down the water to below 100 degrees, so the yeast wouldn't bubble. Place a potholder or another towel underneath the bowl you are working with to fix this issue.

** If the carmel starts to look black and/or smoke it is burnt and can't be used. This can happen just 30 seconds after the desired color is reached. Watch your carmel carefully.

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