Sam O’Neill drew a deft little caricature of the two of us as Mulder and Scully (I still have it, somewhere) and Cassie stuck it to the side of her computer, next to a bumper sticker that said BAD COP! NO DONUT!
— In the Woods by Tana French, 5/5 stars
This book is impossible for me to discuss without spoiling everything. I can say, though, that it would make a great book club selection as it lends a lot of room for discussion between the crime, the psychological elements, the character’s decisions. Caveat: this book has strong language.
In The Woods relates a chilling crime investigation involving a young girl murdered in the detective/narrator’s hometown. The novel is at once nail biting and creepy, while also waxing nostalgic in quiet, beautiful passages.
In my memory, we spent a million nights in Cassie’s flat, the three of us. The investigation only lasted a month or so, and I’m sure there must have been days when one or another of us was off doing something else; but over time those evenings have colored the whole season for me, like a brilliant dye flowering slowly through water. The weather dipped in and out of an early, bitter autumn; wind whined through the eaves, and raindrops seeped in the warmed sash windows and trickled down the panes.
Besides plastic-y warm chicken sandwiches and lots of whiskey, this book didn’t offer much in the form of food inspiration. So I followed the line of Cassie’s bumper sticker and made some woodsy-Halloween-y donuts with an earthy, green base and a rich, chocolate glaze.
This is Joy the Baker’s Baked Brown Butter Pistachio Donuts with some minor revisions. You could opt out of the green food coloring, especially if you’re making these outside of Halloween. Instead of Joy’s brown butter glaze, I used a chocolate glaze similar to the one I used for Celaena’s cake. While I’m typically a dark chocolate advocate, I recommend milk chocolate chips for these donuts. The richness of the dark chocolate overpowers the subtle pistachio flavor. Speaking of pistachio, I wanted the flavor to come through loud and clear, so I added a homemade “nut butter” of sorts to my version of this baked donut.
These beauties are sure to fuel you sleuthing appetite for whatever crimes you’re solving, fictional or otherwise.
Baked Pistachio Donuts with Chocolate Glaze
Revised recipe from Joy the Baker’s Baked Brown Butter and Pistachio Donuts
For the donuts:
2 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 cups of shelled pistachios, finely chopped and divided
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and browned
2 large eggs
1 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Optional: 4 drops of green food coloring
For the chocolate glaze:
1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a donut pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, sugar, and 1/2 cup of chopped pistachios. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Butter will begin to crackle and pop as it melts. That’s the water melting out of the butter. Once the water has evaporated the butter will quiet down and begin to brown. Keep an eye on it, it browns quickly. The butter will begin to smell nutty. Remove from heat pour into a ramekin to cool for about 5 minutes.
- In a food processor, grind 1/2 cup of pistachios until they begin to clump together and stick to the sides. Get the mixture as smooth as possible, though it will still be grainy. That’s alright.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the pistachio butter, eggs, and buttermilk until smooth. Once smooth, whisk in the vanilla extract and browned butter. (Optional: Add 4 drops of green food coloring).
- Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir together until no flour bits remain and all of the ingredients are well combined. Try not to overtax the batter or you’ll get rubbery donuts.
- Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Do not make your chocolate glaze until the donuts are completely cool and ready to be glazed!
- To make the glaze, combine the chocolate chips, cream, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until completely melted. Watch the mixture closely, and keep the heat down low! You don’t want burned chocolate.
- Set the glaze aside for 5 minutes to cool, stirring occasionally to help it along.(Note: leftover glaze will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months. When ready to use it again, pour it into a saucepan and reheat until melted and smooth).
- Dip the tops of the donuts in the glaze, turning back and forth, clockwise and then counterclockwise. Lift carefully, twisting your wrist to allow the glaze to drip back into the pan and settle smoothly across your donut.
- While the glaze is still wet, sprinkle the donuts with the final 1/2 cup of finely chopped pistachios.