Time for confessions. First of all, I trimmed these donuts. I trimmed their flailing arms, cowlicks, and hats off like a high-speed amusement park ride. The price of beauty, as they say. Turns out that making rotund donuts at home takes a bit of practice (and with some batters, you’ll just want to embrace the doughnut appendages).
Secondly, I lifted the idea for these doughnuts from last week’s Chez Panisse menu, when their kitchen was turning out lemon verbena profiteroles. My version riffs on a ricotta doughnut — fragrant, fluffy, the ideal vehicle for sopping up this blackberry sauce. If laughter from playing games in a garden had a specific taste, this would have to be it.
LEMON VERBENA and RICOTTA DOUGHNUTS with BLACKBERRY SAUCE
for 12-15 doughnuts, recipe based on Gale Gand’s:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 oz whole milk ricotta
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon verbena leaves, very finely chopped
canola oil for frying
confectioner’s sugar for dusting
for the blackberry dipping sauce:
about 2 cups of blackberries
fresh juice from half a lemon
about 1/2 cup of sugar, more to taste
about 1 cup of plain greek yogurt
(Note that this dipping sauce is essentially improvised, so feel free to take liberties with it!) To make the dipping sauce, combine the blackberries, lemon, and sugar in a small pot until the blackberries begin to release liquid. Use a spoon to smash the blackberries and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. Adjust lemon and sugar as you prefer. Carefully transfer to a blender and pulse. Strain this mixture to remove the blackberry seeds. Stir in the yogurt until the taste and color is as you like it. Set this sauce in the refrigerator to chill.
Sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Add the sugar, eggs, ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon verbena and mix well until smooth. Let this site at room temperature. Pour the oil into a deep, heavy pot leaving at least 4 inches at the top for safety. Heat the oil on medium heat until it reaches 325-375 F. Fry a test donut using an ice cream scoop or spoon to drop the batter into the oil. Turning the donut immediately will help it to achieve a round shape. Use a slotted spoon to turn it until it is golden brown all around, about 3-4 minutes. If it browns too quickly, turn the heat down (or else the outside will be too brown and the inside won’t be cooked through). When a test donut comes out the way you like it, continue frying the donuts being careful not to crowd. Transfer the completed donuts to a platter lined with a paper towel. Dust the donuts with confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately with the blackberry dipping sauce.