The little things that bring out the big smiles

There is absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to big things. However I know some people who are so attached to the idea of impressive, expensive things that anything less brings them great displeasure. They seem convinced that happiness will only come with the flashy and suddenly they label everything else as unworthy. I won’t be a hypocrite; I daydream about how much better my life could be sometimes as well. But when I feel discontentment creeping up on me, I force myself to take a breath and I realise that there are things that make me smile already around me, silently accompanying me through every day. Things I would not trade anything else for.

My brothers for example never fail to brighten up my day with a crazy antic or another. Looking through the polaroids I amassed over the years always brings me this profound feeling in my heart; each photograph a frozen piece of memory I can replay with such clarity in my mind. My heart soars every time I get to run under clear skies. Even the butterflies and fuzzy feelings I get when I watch adorable rom-coms keeps me on a high. I sleep with a smile on my lips any day I get to spend hours upon hours in a bookstore without being rushed or bothered– bonus when I bring home a book haul and get a whiff of that new-book-smell.

Oh, and when I got my new bookshelf and finally enough space for my cookbooks, I almost danced for joy!

I had another one of these random happy moments after a bite of these doughnut munchkins, when a box filed away in my mind popped open to reveal some of my oldest and fondest memories. What is it about food that can just stir a person so?

I was transported to my kindergarten years, to my five-year-old self. My memories latched on to my nanny and to this time the city was horribly flooded thanks to a typhoon, and she carried me on her shoulders because she could not bear to see me wade through the floodwater. I also remember her smile whenever I would get a star marked “VERY GOOD!” stamped on my hand. She would declare that I needed a prize and then take me for some chocolate munchkins from Dunkin Donuts.

I won’t claim to remember the specifics, but I can just imagine my mini-self in my blue sailor-style school dress, standing patiently in front of a glass case filled with doughnuts. And then my nanny would hand me the bag of chocolate munchkins rolled in powdered sugar, and a smile would be plastered to my face the rest of the day.

Apart from the memories they brought, I really enjoyed these doughnuts. Another surprise since anybody who knows me- and I mean truly knows me- would know I don’t eat fried food if I can help it. But I guess there are always exceptions to the rule, like with churros. And now these doughnut holes can be added to the list.

Rich and with a lovely texture, every doughnut popped into the mouth is a satisfying hit of chocolate. So good, I could almost forget the fact that it was fried. My brothers couldn’t care less and gobbled them all up in a matter of minutes. The good news is it did not feel oily at all, which tells me I did the frying part right. I even went so far as to add a little glaze on it, adding to the “guilt factor” of the doughnuts. Maybe it’s not so bad every once in a while!

Glazed Chocolate Munchkins
Yields 48
Rich chocolatey doughnut holes with a nice cakey texture. This recipe can be halved with no problems, in case a lesser quantity is wanted.
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For the doughnuts
  1. 2 ¾ cups (352 grams) all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup (90 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. 4 large eggs
  6. 1 ½ cups (300 grams) cups sugar
  7. ⅓ cup buttermilk
  8. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  9. Vegetable oil, for frying
For the glaze
  1. 1 ½ cups (6 oz) confectioners' sugar
  2. 7 to 8 teaspoons milk (low fat or 1% is fine)
Prepare the doughnuts
  1. 1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  2. 2. In a large measuring cup, whisk the eggs, sugar, buttermilk and melted butter together.
  3. 3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Switching to a rubber spatula, stir them together until well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. 4. Use a small cookie scoop to portion the dough from the chilled batter. Or scoop about 2 tablespoons of dough into one hand. Roll between hands to form dough into small balls. You'll probably have to wash your hands and the scoop a few times during the process as this dough is quite sticky. (If the dough gets too sticky to work with, just put it back in the fridge for a little while to firm up.)
  5. 5. Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. At this point, you can refrigerate your dough again for about 20 minutes if they have gone soft and you want to reshape them into rounder portions.
  6. 6. Add about 3 cups of oil to the bottom of a pan and set over medium to medium-high heat. Heat the oil to between 365 to 370°F (around 185°C).
  7. 7. Drop a few doughnut holes at a time into the oil. (If you fry too many at once you'll cause the temperature of the oil to drop too much.) Fry the doughnut holes for about 2 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Check the centres of the first few doughnuts at first to get the frying time right.
  8. 8. Return the oil to between 365 to 370°F (around 185°C) before adding a new batch of doughnut holes to the pan.
Let the doughnut holes cool while you make the glaze
  1. 9. Whisk together the confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Adjust the consistency as desired-- thicken by adding more confectioners' sugar and thin by adding more milk.
  2. 10. Once the doughnut holes are cool, use a fork to dip them in the glaze, allowing excess glaze to drip off before transferring to a wire rack to set. Let set a few minutes before eating.
  3. Storage: The doughnut holes are best eaten on the first day. They may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature to be enjoyed the following day.
Adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures blog

Being the sentimental girl that I am, I somehow manage to find some value in what seems like something as mundane as a doughnut hole.

It’s just so nice to get to revisit old memories, kind of bask in a sense of wistfulness every so often. It’s such a great way to remind us of the things that really matter to us, because these days it’s so easy to lose sight of them. Almost too easy, actually.

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