These crème brûlée filled brioche donuts are next level good. They're coated in burnt sugar, filled with pastry cream and burnt sugar pieces, and finally topped with more burnt sugar pieces. These donuts are truly life changing! Each component of these donuts does seem complicated, but I assure you, they are not as difficult as they sound. Plus, the dough, pastry cream, and burnt sugar pieces can be prepared the night before, so all you have to do the next morning is fry up the donuts and fill them crème brûlée goodness.
The donut dough is a basic brioche recipe, which is my go-to for all enriched breads. The only difference between the other brioche recipes is the addition of malted milk powder. This is optional, but it keeps the donuts softer for longer and provides a little more depth of flavor!
- Active Dry Yeast or Instant Yeast: If using active dry yeast, combine with milk and sugar and allow to sit for 15 minutes. If using instant yeast, there is no need to let the yeast sit in the mixture.
- Whole Milk: Use whole milk for optimum flavor, and warm the milk to about 110 degrees F to activate the yeast.
- Granulated Sugar: The sugar will need to be mixed in with the milk and yeast to help activate the yeast.
- Eggs: You’ll need to 2 eggs at room temperature.
- Vanilla Extract: A good quality vanilla extract will give these donuts a wonderful flavor!
- All-Purpose Flour: The best way to measure your flour, as well as the rest of the ingredients, is by weight. I use this kitchen scale!
- Malted Milk Powder: This is optional, but it keeps the donuts softer for longer and provides more depth of flavor!
- Unsalted Butter: You’ll need about 6 tablespoon of unsalted butter at room temperature, which will need to be added one piece at a time to properly incorporate into the dough.
This pastry cream is another go-to recipe that works for anything from filled pastries to german buttercream.
- Egg Yolks: You'll need about 4 egg yolks for this recipe. If you aren't sure what to do with your extra egg whites, check out some of my macaron recipes!
- Granulated Sugar: You’ll only need a half cup sugar, but keep in mind the burnt sugar will make it sweeter.
- Cornstarch: A little bit of cornstarch will help the pastry cream thicken up to the right consistency.
- Vanilla Extract: You’ll want the vanilla to really shine through here, so 1 tablespoon should be added to the pastry cream.
- Whole Milk: Again, use whole milk for optimum flavor.
- Unsalted Butter: You’ll need about four tablespoons of butter at room temperature.
The burnt sugar pieces are much easier to make than you think. You can make it the day before, along with the pastry cream and brioche dough, but be sure to store it in the fridge or the pieces will become too soft and stick together.
- Granulated Sugar: You'll mix a full cup of sugar with some water and heat together over the stove.
- Baking Soda: When you add the baking soda to the caramelized sugar, it reacts and bubbles up, giving it a honeycomb look.
Other donut recipes you'll love
A few tips to make these donuts:
- You can use either active dry yeast or instant yeast. For active, you’ll need to combine the yeast with the lukewarm milk and sugar and allow to sit for about 15 minutes until foamy and activated. For instant yeast you do not need to let it sit.
- I recommend allowing your brioche dough to rise slowly overnight in the fridge. Cold dough is so much nicer to work with! But you can also let it proof at room temperature for one hour and make the donuts immediately.
- Make the pastry cream the day before so you do not need to wait for it to cool down before filling your donuts. I like to pull it out of the fridge before I fry the donuts, so it has some time to warm up a bit, which makes it easier to pipe into the donuts.
- You can also make the burnt sugar the day before, just be sure to store the pieces in a ziplock bag and refrigerate them so they do not become too soft and stick together.
- Donuts are best enjoyed the day they are made.
Happy baking! xPrint
Crème Brûlée Filled Brioche Donuts
- Yield: 8 donuts 1x
These crème brûlée filled brioche donuts are next level good. They're coated in burnt sugar, filled with pastry cream and burnt sugar pieces, and finally topped with more burnt sugar pieces.
For the Pastry Cream:
- 66g egg yolk (about 4) (room temp)
- 100g granulated sugar
- 14g cornstarch
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 227g whole milk
- 56g unsalted butter (room temp)
For the Burnt Sugar:
- 198g granulated sugar
- 57g water
- ½ tsp baking soda
For the Brioche Dough:
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry or instant yeast
- 115g whole milk (warmed to 110 degrees F)
- 25g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 300g all-purpose flour
- 20g malted milk powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 85g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- vegetable oil (for frying)
For the Pastry Cream:
- Make the pastry cream by heating the milk and vanilla in a medium pot to just shy of a simmer. It is difficult to tell when milk is simmering, so I just bring it to about 195-200 degrees F.
- Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Once the milk is hot enough, pour half of it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper them. Whisk for another minute and then pour all of it back into the pot and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly. Once the pastry cream thickens and the bubbles disappear, continue whisking for one more minute and then remove from heat.
- Transfer the pastry cream to a small bowl and whisk in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface, so a skin does not form and place in the fridge to cool overnight.
For the Burnt Sugar:
- Line a baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and water over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Once it starts bubbling, increase the heat to medium-high and only swirl it, do not stir it. Heat for about 10 minutes, or until it turns an amber color.
- Remove from heat and quickly whisk in baking soda. Pour over the prepared pan (do not spread with spoon or spatula, as this will deflate the bubbles). Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces.
For the Brioche Dough:
- Heat the milk to 110 degrees F and stir in yeast and sugar. If using active dry yeast, allow to sit for 15 minutes. If using instant yeast, simply move on to the next step.
- Mix the eggs and vanilla into the milk yeast mixture.
- Combine flour, malted milk powder, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour and mix on low-medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until it forms a ball around the hook.
- Add in one piece of butter at a time, allowing it to fully incorporate before adding the next. Once all of the butter is incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and mix for 6-8 minutes. To check if the dough is ready, tear off a small piece and carefully spread it out to see if you can see the light through it without it tearing. If it tears, mix for another minute and check again.
- Once the dough is ready, transfer it to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow to proof overnight in the fridge.
For Frying the Donuts:
- Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll into smooth balls. Allow the donuts to proof at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- While the donuts proof, pour enough vegetable oil in a cast iron pot to fill two inches and heat to 350-360 degrees F.
- Fry the donuts, two or three at a time, for 30 seconds on each side for a total of 2-3 minutes. Dry donuts off on paper towels quickly and then transfer to a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Allow to cool completely before filling.
- Grind up about 50g of the burnt sugar in a blender. Transfer to a small bowl and coat each donut in the sugar.
- Using a skewer or the end of silverware, poke a hole in each donut.
- Mix about half of the burnt sugar pieces (or more if desired) in the pastry cream and transfer to a piping bag with a medium round tip. Pipe cream into each donut and top with bigger burnt sugar pieces.
I am making these a couple of hours ahead of being served. How would you best store these to make sure they keep the best form (it will still be day of, but will be served about 5-6 hours after made).