Brown Butter Baked Donuts

Have you ever played that game where someone asks “If you could have dinner with one person in the whole world, past or present, who would it be?” I’ve been asked that a time or two, and lucky for me, I’ve been ready with a confident answer ever since I was about 15. The response I’ve stuck with over the last decade has, without a doubt, been Joy the Baker.

For those who don’t know Joy the Baker, have you been living under a rock?? Just kidding (partially) — she’s my favorite food blogger living in New Orleans these days, who loves food as much as I do and just so happens to have a totally relatable, “I wish you were my best friend” quality of voice to her writing. From the years I’ve been reading her blog, I feel like I’ve come to personally know the cat-loving, pancake-flipping, quirky food/life enthusiast that is Joy (the Baker). If you’re new to Joy, I just know—even as I’m writing this—that I’m not doing her justice, so please stop what you’re doing now and poke around her blog to see what you’ve been missing.

A couple weeks ago, one of my greatest dreams came true when Joy stopped in Boston on a tour to promote her new cookbook Joy the Baker Over Easy, which is a celebration of all things brunch. In the days leading up to her book signing, I actually felt jittery and nervous! What is one to do when you’re about to meet the equivalent of your very own Ina Garten/Beyoncé-level hero?! I kept thinking about what I’d say to her when we finally met, but by the time I arrived to the event, all I’d come up with was “Hi Joy, I’m Jen.”

Seeing her in person was sort of surreal. She did a biscuit cooking demo, and it was oddly familiar watching her cook in front of me since I’ve been seeing her make all sorts of things every week for as long as I can remember. When I finally got to the beginning of the line for her to sign my book, I asked her for a hug and blurted out whatever thoughts my brain could string together. It came out as a jumble of words about how she’s my hero, and she’d be my girl if I could have dinner with anyone.

She was incredibly sweet and hopefully only slightly uncomfortable by my confession. Joy wrote a note in my cookbook, and I walked away star struck.  Of course in retrospect, I wish I could have formed more coherent thoughts in the moment! I would have told her that she’s been my baking inspiration for years and my trusty kitchen guide to everything from turkey meatballs to pop-tarts. And that I’ve been a loyal reader since the very beginning of JTB, long before foodies and celebrity chef bloggers became popular like they are today.

So in honor of meeting Joy the Baker, I found it fitting to try out one of her recipes that’s been on my list for a while now: donuts! I got a hold of a friend’s donut pan and decided it was long overdue to tackle some baked cake donuts. I decided on Joy’s Brown Butter Donuts with a classic chocolate glaze and rainbow sprinkles. The brown butter and hint of spice gave the donuts a subtle depth of flavor, and they were as dense and satisfying as any fried cake donut.

The glaze, made with cocoa, turned out tasting as my sister described “like chocolate pudding” which I took as a very good thing. Overall, my conclusion is that the baked donut trend lives up to the hype, and I can’t wait to experiment with other flavor and decoration combos. There’s hardly anything happier or more fun than the sight of a dozen donuts. Whether you’re having them baked, fried, homemade, from the local hipster shop, or even from Dunkin’ — I really hope your mouth and a donut find your way to each other today!

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