Yield: 10 hibiscus heart donuts // Total Time: 2 hr. 15 min. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.
Light and fluffy brioche donuts, filled with a hibiscus pastry cream and coated in hibiscus sugar.
Why you’ll love these hibiscus heart donuts
It’s almost Valentine’s Day which means it’s time for ALL the hearts and pink in baking! These hibiscus donuts are so delicious. It starts with my classic and favorite light and fluffy brioche dough, which get’s fried (making it even more delicious of course). They’re cut into a heart shape (because of course), then we fill them with a floral and slightly coconut-y hibiscus pastry cream, and then coat the donuts in hibiscus sugar. These donuts just scream Valentine’s Day and are the perfect gift for your valentine! Below you’ll find a whole bunch of tips, tricks, and notes that I hope are helpful for creating these heart donuts.
Why do you post small batch recipes?
I love making small batch bakes because they are the perfect size myself and others who don’t have a lot of people to bake for in their home. Small batch helps cut down on waste and eliminates the feeling that all that excess dessert MUST be eaten. Here on my blog I post a lot of small batch bakes with a mix of some 8-10″ single layer cakes from time to time. All my recipes can easily be doubled or tripled to fit your need, so long as you use grams to measure!
Weigh your ingredients
- Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient and can easily throw off a recipe. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!
Kneading the dough
- Kneading this dough will take a longer time than you are probably used to. This dough is enriched with eggs and butter which makes it take longer for the proper amount of gluten to develop. Kneading in the mixer can take me anywhere from 10-20 minutes. The dough is ready to be used when it passes the windowpane test and has pulled away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. If you are weighing your ingredients, just trust the process! If you are using cup measurements and the dough just is not coming together after 15 minutes, try adding in 1 tbsp. of flour at a time.
Room temperature ingredients
- It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. Take out the butter and egg at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe. To bring an egg to room temperature quickly, you can place it under hot water for 1 minute. To bring butter to room temperature quickly, slice it, place it on a plate, and microwave it in 5 second intervals!
Heating the milk
- Heating the milk is important for bringing the yeast to an optimal temperature for rising. The milk should be heated to ~100°F / 38°C but it does not have to be exact. As long as the milk is between 95°F – 110°F, it is good to be used. If the temperature exceeds 110°F, wait for it to cool down before using so that you do not kill the yeast!
Dough rising environment
- For the first rise, I recommend letting the dough rise in the fridge overnight simply because it’s much easier to work with when it’s cold, and then you don’t have to worry about doing everything in one day. For the second rise (and if you do choose to do both rises in one day) – you’re going to want to make sure your dough is in a warm environment for it to rise faster. If the room is cold, the dough will take longer to rise. I like to place my bowl of dough on top of my oven, preheat the oven to the lowest temperature it will go, and then turn the oven off and let it continue to rise there.
The windowpane test
- The windowpane test is (in my opinion) the best way to tell that your dough has been properly kneaded. Once the dough starts to pull away from the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl, it is most likely ready. However, just to be sure that it’s good to go I check if it passes the windowpane test. To do that, take some of the dough in your hands and start to slowly stretch it out. If it can get thin enough to where light passes through it before tearing, then it’s good to go! If not, keep kneading until it does!
Put plastic wrap on your pastry cream
- Once your pastry cream is all cooked and you’ve transferred it to a bowl, place a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of it and set it in the fridge. This will prevent a ‘skin’ from forming on top of the cream! P.s. if you’re like me and at the time are unfortunately out of plastic wrap, a ziploc bag will do the trick as well.
Ingredients and substitutions
For the brioche dough:
All purpose flour: for structure and chewiness.
Active dry yeast: for making the dough rise. You can easily substitute in instant yeast if that is what you have on hand. You will just skip the step of combining the warm milk, sugar, and yeast!
Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness of the brioche. Salt also “controls” the yeast to make sure that it does not overly expand.
Granulated sugar: for sweetening the brioche and for helping the yeast with rising. We will use a little bit of sugar in the brioche as well as in the hazelnut sugar.
Eggs: for binding and adding moisture.
Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the brioche and giving it a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth feel. I would not recommend substituting in salted butter since salt is important to controlling yeast growth and the amount of salt in salted butter is quite variable.
Whole milk: for tenderizing and hydrating the dough. Whole milk will provide the softest donuts because the extra fat helps tenderize the dough. You can however swap in 1%, 2% or your favorite non dairy milk alternative! Just note that the dough may be a little less soft and fluffy due to the varying fat content.
For the hibiscus pastry cream:
Coconut milk: the base of the pastry cream. It’s important to use coconut milk here because regular milk will result in a curdled mixture. I used and recommend a canned coconut milk.
Hibiscus powder: for flavor!
Egg yolks: to thicken the pastry cream. P.s. egg whites freeze super well!
Granulated sugar: to sweeten the pastry cream.
Salt: to balance and bring out the flavor and sweetness of the pastry cream.
All purpose flour: to thicken up the pastry cream.
Heavy whipping cream: we’ll whip up some homemade whipped cream and fold it into the hibiscus pastry cream for a light and airy filling!
For the hibiscus sugar coating:
Granulated sugar & hibiscus powder
How to: hibiscus heart donuts
Here are the steps to follow to make these hibiscus heart donuts. You can find the complete recipe (which is printable!) at the end of this blog post.
1. Make the dough. Mix together the warm milk, sugar, and yeast and leave to rest until the mixture begins to foam. Then, combine all of the dough ingredients in a stand mixer and knead. You will know the dough is ready when it passes the windowpane test (more details earlier in this post!)
2. Let the dough rise. At this point, you could set the dough in the fridge to rise overnight, or continue to do this in one day. If doing in one day, set the dough in a warm area and wait for it to double in size (~1 hour.)
3. Make the hibiscus pastry cream. The most important thing here is going to be combining the hot milk mixture with the egg yolk mixture. While constantly whisking the egg yolk mixture, use a small ladle to slowly pour a bit of the hot milk into the egg mixture, then, while constantly whisking the milk, transfer the egg mixture into the milk. Return the saucepan to the heat, and whisk until thickened.
4. Make the hibiscus sugar coating. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and hibiscus powder and set aside.
5. Shape the donuts. Once the dough has finished rising (either overnight or same-day), lightly punch it down to remove any excess air in it. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and roll it out to be 1/2″ thick. Cut out your donuts, re-roll, and cut out more donuts.
6. Fry the donuts. Keep a close eye on the temperature (should be around 365°F / 185°C). If the temperature gets too hot or isn’t hot enough, the cooking times will significantly vary. Once the donuts have cooked, coat them in the hibiscus sugar.
7. Fill the donuts. To finish off the pastry cream, we’ll whip up some homemade whipped cream and fold it into the pastry cream. Then, generously fill all the donuts with the hibiscus cream!
8. Serve and enjoy!
Hibiscus heart donuts Q & A
How big are these donuts?
- I used a 3″ heart cookie cutter to yield 10 donuts! If you use a bigger or smaller cookie cutter be sure to keep a close eye on the donuts as they’re frying, as you may need to adjust the time.
Can I double this recipe?
- Yes! I can’t emphasize using a kitchen scale enough for especially this recipe already, but if you are going to double or half the ingredients it is even more important that you weigh your ingredients. The dough is very hydrated and slight alterations can change the texture of the dough.
Is it okay to use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast?
- Yes of course! You’ll do everything the same here, just note that the first rise will probably only take you ~30 minutes!
Can I make the dough ahead of time?
- Yes, and I recommend it! Simply knead the dough together, cover it, and leave it to rise in the fridge overnight. When ready to make the rolls simply take it out of the fridge and proceed with the recipe.
How should I store these donuts?
- These donuts, like most yeasted doughs, are definitely going to taste the best and be at their best texture on the day they are made. I would recommend filling these donuts as you plan to eat them, since the filling does need to be stored in the fridge. The longest a filled donut should be out at room temperature is 2 hours.
Why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is a more accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements. Here is my favorite kitchen scale, and here’s an article about why I use a kitchen scale, and why you should too!
How to make hibiscus heart donuts
Hibiscus heart donuts troubleshooting
My dough just isn’t coming together
- I can’t recommend the use of a kitchen scale enough, especially for this super hydrated dough. If you’ve been kneading and kneading and the dough still won’t come together, add 1 tbsp. of flour at a time and knead for 2 minutes until the dough comes together. Please note that the dough at times has taken me up to 20 minutes to knead and pass the windowpane test!
My dough is shrinking while I’m rolling it out
- No worries here! That just means that your dough is being overworked and needs to relax a bit. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then try rolling it out again.
Tools and ingredients
You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here!
Did you make these hibiscus heart donuts?
If you made these hibiscus heart donuts I would love to see them and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Hibiscus Heart Donuts
- 80 g whole milk (⅓ c.)
- 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 160 g all purpose flour (1 ⅓ c.)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 egg room temperature
- 42 g unsalted butter (3 tbsp.) room temperature
Hibiscus Pastry Cream
- 2 egg yolks
- 50 g granulated sugar (¼ c.)
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- 1 ½ tbsp. all purpose flour
- 200 g canned coconut milk (7 oz.)
- 1 tbsp. hibiscus powder
- 115 g heavy whipping cream (4 oz.)
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
Hibiscus Sugar Coating
- 100 g granulated sugar
- ½ tbsp. hibiscus powder
- In a microwave safe measuring cup, heat the milk to 100°F / 38°C. Whisk in the yeast and the sugar. Set aside until the mixture begins to foam. (~5 minutes)
- While waiting, add the flour, salt, egg, and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. When the yeast mixture begins to foam, add it in to the rest of the ingredients.
- Knead the dough on low speed for 1 minute to allow the ingredients to come together. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead for an additional 10 minutes, or until the dough passes the windowpane test. (This will happen after the dough has cleaned the sides and bottom of the bowl)
- Once the dough is done kneading, butter the inside of the bowl, form the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl, then cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap. At this point, you could set the dough in the fridge to rise overnight, or continue to do this in one day. If doing in one day, set the dough in a warm area and wait for it to double in size (~1 hour.)
- Before it's time to roll out the dough, make the hibiscus pastry cream.
Hibiscus Pastry Cream
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 50g sugar, salt, and flour until the mixture is light and fluffy. (It will be quite thick!)
- In a medium sized saucepan set over medium heat, stir together the coconut milk and hibiscus powder. Continue to stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a simmer.
- Once the mixture is simmering, remove it from the heat. While constantly whisking the egg mixture, use a small ladle to slowly pour some of the hot milk mixture into the eggs.
- Now, while constantly whisking the coconut milk in the saucepan, slowly pour in the egg mixture until it's all combined.
- Return the saucepan to the heat, and whisk constantly until the pastry cream thickens (this can vary from ~2-5 minutes)
- (Optional) if you think there may be some cooked egg in your pastry cream, feel free to pass the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve at this point.
- Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl, and place plastic wrap right on top of the pastry cream. This will keep a layer from forming on top of the cream. Set it in the fridge to let it cool while frying the donuts.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the sugar and hibiscus powder and set aside.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to remove excess air, then transfer it to a clean, lightly floured surface.
- Roll out the dough until it is ½" (~1 ¼ cm.) thick. Use a 3" heart cookie cutter to cut out the donuts, then re-roll the dough and cut out as many more donuts as you can.
- Fill a large saucepan with at least 2" of vegetable or any neutral oil. Heat the mixture to 365°F / 185°C. Carefully place the donuts in to the fryer (3-4 at a time, depending on what your pan can fit). Fry the donuts on each side for 2 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown.
- Remove the donuts from the oil and toss them in the hibiscus sugar.
- To finish off the pastry cream: beat together the heavy whipping cream and 1 tbsp. sugar until it reaches stiff peaks. Remove the pastry cream from the fridge, and gently fold the whipped cream into it.
- Transfer the hibiscus cream to a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip.
- Use a sharp knife to poke a hole in the top of each donut, then fill each donut with a generous amount of hibiscus cream.
- Serve and enjoy!