Walter named this pastry (he went through a phase when he wanted to name everything “bomb”). These are our bomboloni—Italian doughnuts—made with our brioche dough, filled with vanilla pastry cream and heated in the oven until just warm. Then they’re drizzled with a honey–brown sugar-cream-bacon-pecan sauce and served sitting in the sauce that pools around them.
- Put 11⁄2 cups of the milk and 3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp of the granulated sugar in a saucepan over high heat. Add the vanilla seeds to the pot and drop in the pod. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Put the cornstarch, remaining 1⁄3 cup sugar, and the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk until well incorporated. If there are still any clumps, strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
- As soon as the milk comes to a boil, drizzle a little of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This will temper the egg mixture so that it doesn’t curdle the eggs. Remove and discard the vanilla pod.
- Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and continue to cook, whisking continuously until the mixture returns to a boil and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Cook for 1 additional minute so that the starch cooks out.
- Turn off the heat. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and, using a handheld mixer, mix on low speed until cooled, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath in a large stainless-steel bowl in which you can nest another wider bowl.
- Transfer the pastry cream to a wide bowl and cover with plastic wrap, laying it directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let the pastry cream cool to room temperature in the ice water bath. Refrigerate until ready to use, or for up to 3 days.
- Divide the brioche dough into 12 1-oz portions and shape into balls. (At this point, you can freeze the balls, along with any remaining dough reserved for another use; thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then proceed with the recipe.)
- Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Transfer the balls to the baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place the baking sheet in a warm place (no warmer than 90°F) to proof until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- To make the sticky bomb topping: Put the butter and brown sugar in a bowl and set aside.
- Bring the cream, water, honey, and salt to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour the cream mixture over the brown sugar and butter. Blend, using a handheld blender. Set aside. (You can make the topping up to 2 weeks in advance and store it in the refrigerator.)
- Line a baking sheet with paper towels. To fry the bomboloni, fill an 8-quart Dutch oven no more than halfway with oil. Attach a candy or frying thermometer to the side of the pot. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 350°F.
- Fry the bomboloni 5 or 6 at a time. When you first put the bomboloni in the hot oil, you'll see blisters on the surface of the dough. Flip the bomboloni right away; this prevents big air bubbles from forming. Constantly turn and baste the bomboloni with the hot oil to ensure even cooking. They should be dark golden brown when done, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Transfer the bomboloni to the prepared baking sheet to drain the excess oil. Let cool completely.
- Line a plate with paper towels. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until the fat renders out and the strips get slightly crispy on the edges. Transfer the bacon to the plate to drain. Let cool.
- Poke a small hole on the side of the bomboloni with a paring knife or kitchen scissors (wiggle it around a little to create a pocket for the pastry cream). Spoon the pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a 1⁄4-inch round tip. Pipe about 1 Tbsp of the pastry cream into the hole, making sure not to over- or under-fill them. (You have to pipe and inspect as you go, until you know how much each one weighs in your hand when properly filled.) Transfer to a serving plate and set aside.
- Warm the topping over medium heat. Add the bacon and pecans and stir to coat evenly. Spoon the mixture over the bomboloni, letting the goo drip down the sides. Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from Baking at Republique by Margarita Manzke, copyright (c) 2019. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.