I've mentioned Hadassah in the past, but in case I never explained what it is, Hadassah is an organization of Jewish women (although you don't have to be Jewish to be a member, just female. In fact, one lovely Baptist lady has been president of our chapter twice. But I digress ...). The main purpose of Hadassah is to support hospitals and education in Israel and to fund medical research.
Anyway, since I hosted, I had to provide snacks and dessert. Well, I didn't really have to serve anything. But what nice Jewish girl can have guests come over and not serve something? The talk was several hours after dinner. They might have een starving by then! So I made two different somethings to serve after the book talk, Baked Caramel Apple Donuts and Amaretto Pound Cake (whose recipe will be posted hopefully in a couple of days).
The caramel apple donuts were very different from the Caramel Apple Cake I posted a couple months ago (this is America, baby, you gots choice!). I could have made the cake recipe, but after finding this particular recipe, courtesy of Shutterbean, I needed an excuse to make it. And the book review was it. Woo-hoo! Time to make the donuts!
Since my pans are of the non-stick variety, I opted for margarine rather than cooking spray (the spray is fine on glass or non-coated pans, but tends to build up on non-stick). Tip Alert: to speed up greasing and to prevent slopping margarine all over the pans, use a pastry brush.
Getting back to the margarine. I know that butter is soooo much tastier than margarine. But these donuts are parve. Some of the Hadassah members observe the kosher laws and would not be able to eat a dairy dessert so soon after a meat-based dinner. Since I didn't in advance know who ate what for dinner, it's considered polite to have at least one parve (dairy-free) item available so no one would starve. The caramel glaze is definitely dairy, so a few donuts were pulled and stored separately so as not to get dairy cooties on them.
If you read the recipe below, you will notice that I first have you mix the liquids, wait until you grate the apples, then mix the wet with the dry. You probably are wondering two things. First, why not first grate the apples, then mix the batter ingredients. Or, two, create the batter, THEN grate the apples. Due to chemistry, timing is everything. If you first grate the apples then create the batter, the apples will start to turn brown. If you first mix the batter, the baking powder will react too early with the liquids (yes, I know it's called double-acting, but you don't want the first reaction to react more than necessary ... the second reaction will take care of itself during baking). Doing it my way reduces the browning and minimizes the first baking powder reaction.
Baked Caramel Apple Donuts
adapted from Shutterbean who adapted this recipe from Rachel Ray
yield: about 48 mini-donuts
soft margarine (to grease pans)
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 medium apples, peeled, cut into large segments
1 1/2 cup chewy caramel candies
2 Tbl. milk (low-fat okay)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease donut pans with soft margarine or cooking spray (even non-stick pans -- see Tip Alert above).
Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth.
Whisk in oil and vanilla. Set aside.
Peel and cut apples into large chunks. Coarely grate apple chunks, using a food processor or the large holes on a hand grater.
You want shreds, not mush. Set aside for a moment.
Stir oil mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.
Now gently fold in the apples. Wow! Seems like there's more apple than batter! Yum!
Spoon the batter into the prepared donut pans ...
... about 2/3 to 3/4 full.
Baked until golden, about 15-20 minutes.
Let cool about 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely. You might have to gently nudge the stubborn ones loose.
They look a little more donut-ish here. As you can see, I had overfilled the cups a tad.
Unwrap the caramels and place in a small microwaveable bowl. Add milk.
Microwave for 1 minute at medium power. then stir.
Repeat every 30 second until melted and smooth.
Place cooling rack over baking pan (to catch drips). Spoon caramel over donuts.
Serve immediately, or store, covered, at room temperature. Note -- after a day, the caramel will be absorbed by the donuts. They won't look as pretty, but they will soften and taste even better.