Potatoes can add highly beneficial qualities to sweet goods, including doughnuts. John Gorham, co-owner and executive chef of Tasty n Alder and Tasty n Sons (among other restaurants) in Portland, OR, makes these Chocolate Potato Doughnuts paired with Crème Anglaise for his dessert menu (but, of course, there’s never a bad time for a doughnut…). We checked in with him to get some insight behind his highly craveable creation.
Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: What was the inspiration for this doughnut?
John Gorham: We had a joke in our kitchen at Toro Bravo to challenge one of our lead cooks, Drew Sprouse, to make fried chocolate balls to put on the menu. Drew didn’t test his recipe in time to menu, but at that point I was inspired, so I started researching Depression-era baking. I’ve always been enthralled with those books from the family farmers about pickling and other age-old tricks and techniques. I started geeking out and eventually found a recipe for a potato doughnut which I practiced until I nailed it. The ones from that era were tasteless and gummy and horrible, so it took about a month of recipe testing to get it right.
DJP: Is it a regular item on your menu?
JG: Yes, it is a regular item at Tasty n Sons and Tasty n Alder.
DJP: What are the benefits of using potato in a doughnut batter?
JG: The lack of gluten makes it a very light and fluffy doughnut.
DJP: Why did you choose to use both dark and sweet chocolate in the recipe?
JG: They have different flavor profiles, and the combination adds layers to the flavor.
DJP: Why does the recipe call for both sour cream and buttermilk? What are they contributing in terms of texture and/or flavor?
JG: Sour cream really adds an airiness. Again, it’s all about layering of flavors.
DJP: What is your preferred oil for frying doughnuts?
JG: Rice oil.
Chocolate Potato Doughnuts with Crème Angliase
Recipe courtesy of John Gorham
Image courtesy of Potatoes USA
4¼ cups whole milk
4¼ cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
20 large egg yolks
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 vanilla bean
8 cups medium russet potatoes, diced and peeled
2½ cups sugar
About 4 cups whole milk
2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 cups sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups pastry flour
¼ cup baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 cups sour cream
½ cup buttermilk
Frying oil, as needed
Cinnamon sugar, as needed
For the crème anglaise, prepare an ice bath. Combine the milk and cream in a large saucepan and scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer (195–205°F/90.5–96°C) over medium heat.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks and 1 cup of the sugar until light in color. Slowly whisk the cream mixture into the yolk mixture until fully incorporated.
Return the mixture to the saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom and sides often with a spoon. Cook until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and steam begins to rise from the top (175–180°F/79.4–82.2°C).
Immediately strain the mixture and let cool over the ice bath. The crème anglaise can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
For the doughnuts, put 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean. Once the butter melts and the vanilla is fragrant, add the potatoes, 1 cup of the sugar, and then enough milk to cover. Simmer until tender.
Meanwhile, combine the chocolates, cocoa powder and remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter in a double boiler on medium-low heat. Stir to combine. When fully melted and incorporated, remove from the heat and set aside.
When potatoes are tender, strain, spread on a baking sheet, and let cool as some of the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooling, in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the eggs and the remaining 1½ cups of sugar together, starting on medium speed and increasing to medium-high, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides, until the mixture has thickened. When the whisk is lifted the mixture should form a slowly dissolving ribbon.
In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose and pastry flours, baking powder and baking soda.
In a large bowl, with a spatula, combine the chocolate mixture with the sour cream and buttermilk, and then the egg-sugar mixture. The mixture should resemble a shiny chocolate pudding.
Heat a doughnut fryer to 350°F/177°C. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Put the cinnamon sugar in a wide bowl to toss the doughnuts.
Set a food mill over the bowl containing the chocolate mixture. Pass the potatoes through the food mill into the bowl and mix together. Stir in the combined dry ingredients, mixing with the spatula until thickened. Switch to mixing with gloved hands and continue until the dough no longer sticks to your gloves and has a nice sheen. The dough should have the appearance of an aerated chocolate. Transfer to a baking sheet.
Pinch off 1-ounce pieces of dough (about the size of ping pong balls) and roll into balls.
Working in batches, fry the doughnuts for about 6 minutes, turning as needed to brown evenly and cook through. Transfer to the cooling rack, cool for 30 seconds and then toss into the cinnamon sugar.
Serve the doughnuts warm with the crème anglaise on the side.