Coffee-Infused Doughnut French Toast

#cooperthelabradoodle doughnuts

It was 6:30 A.M. on a Saturday when they started calling me.

The beckoning cries echoed from our kitchen, up the stairs and into our bedroom. Although I was sound asleep minutes ago, the haunting calls forced enough adrenaline into my veins to ensure that falling back asleep wouldn’t be an option.

The “they” in this situation was a few remaining Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Stale and past their peak by a few days, but far from moldy. They knew I had a choice to make on this Saturday morning – a choice that could potentially alter the course of breakfast for the weekend.

I could simply throw out the glazed rings of stale dough…OR…I could REVIVE them into one of the most delectable breakfast items known to man: Doughnut French Toast.

Before I had time to even consider my options, the decision was already made. Like a waking dream I looked down and saw that my mise en place was ready to go: Doughnuts, eggs, milk, butter, coffee, fresh oranges, and a hot griddle. This was it. I had a job to do. Clear eyes, empty stomach, can’t lose.

doughnut french toast

I covet this breakfast because the texture reminds me of crème brûlée. The outer doughnut glaze forms a sweet caramelized crust, which hides a gooey custard-ish doughnut flesh.

This isn’t the first time I’ve made French toast out of doughnuts, but it is the first time I’ve tried to elevate it a bit. I wanted to incorporate coffee flavor, but I don’t typically keep cold coffee on hand for serious emergencies like this. And adding hot coffee to the egg-milk mixture was sure to turn out poorly. I decided to blend whole coffee beans and milk to see if I could at least force some coffee flavor into the milk in a similar way that one might make homemade almond milk.

My original idea was to use my Aerobie Aeropress espresso maker to filter out the coffee grinds. Yes, that was the plan

I love my Aeropress, but it turns out that milk is too thick to easily go through the paper filter. After almost breaking my beloved bong-shaped coffee maker and pulling a muscle, I ended up just using a standard strainer to filter out most of the coffee grinds. Sure some of the grinds broke through, but who doesn’t like a little texture? Yes, texture became the new plan.

frying doughnut french toast

Since the doughnuts come pre-sweetened with glaze, no additional syrup is necessary (unless you’re Leslie Knope). But there is one more thing I like to add: A squeeze of fresh orange juice.

So freaking simple. Does the orange really add that much? (Spoiler alert: Yes, it does.)

This is a sweet, rich dish. Not only does the orange juice complete a comforting “breakfast trifecta” of doughnuts, coffee, and orange juice, but it actually brings out the taste of coffee. Cool, huh? Oh, it also adds some much needed acid to the dish (I’ve always wanted to say that).

Despite the struggles with infusing milk with coffee, I was really happy with this dish. Which is good, because if I’m going to wake up at 6:30 A.M. on a Saturday, I damn well better be making something delicious.

doughnut french toast

 Coffee-Infused Doughnut French Toast

  • 6 Stale Glazed Doughnuts (Krispy Kreme works great)
  • 1 Tablespoon Coffee Beans
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Orange
  • 2 Extra Large Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • Confectioner’s sugar (for garnish)
  1. Blend milk and coffee beans in a blender until the beans are thoroughly ground and the milk has a light brown color from the beans. Use a separate cup to strain the coffee-milk twice. Most of the grounds shall be captured, but you do want a few to escape.
  2. In a glass pan or shallow casserole dish, whisk the eggs until the yolk and whites have become one.
  3. Stir the milk into the pan with the eggs.
  4. Slice doughnuts in half, lengthwise and dip in the batter pan before frying in Step 5. You don’t need to let them sit for very long, as the un-glazed side will soak up the batter fairly quickly. (You can also use whole doughnuts, but you’ll need to let them sit a little longer to make sure it soaks up enough batter.)
  5. Heat a griddle pan to medium heat (or around 300 degrees). Melt the butter on the pan, then fry up your doughnuts French toast style. It shouldn’t take more than 1-2 minutes per side. Keep an eye on them, as the glaze side will caramelize quickly and burn if you’re not careful. You want the sugar to brown and be a little bit crunchy, but not burnt.
  6. Slice the orange into wedges, which can be used to squeeze juice onto the doughnut French toast. Since there is inherent sweetness from the glaze, no syrup necessary!
Beyond the Food, Series

DC Donut Crawl

dc donut crawl

When:  Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 10:00 A.M.
Where:  Mount Vernon Square in Washington, DC
Registration:  Click here to register online.
More Info:

“I don’t like doughnuts” – Said by no one I would ever want to hang out with.

“I love doughnuts so much that I’m going to create an event in which attendees ride bikes to various doughnut shops.” – Said by a brilliant man who deserves a handshake, hug, and a bouquet of doughnuts.

That man is Erik Luchauer and in 2013 he had a dream. A simple dream that involved stuffing his face with doughnuts and riding his bike. Turns out he’s not the only person who’s dreamed of spokes and fried dough, because 250 hungry cyclists joined him last November to take an eight-mile bike ride to hit up four DC doughnut shops. This year’s crawl is set for June 7th, so grease your bike chains up and empty your stomachs.

In addition to a four-mile bike ride and three doughnut shops, this year a portion of the proceeds from the crawl will benefit Food For Life, a project of Care Company. Food For Life uses food to educate and train low income young adults in Washington, DC. Sure if you teach a man how to fish he’ll feed himself for a lifetime, but if you teach him how to cook that fish, it will taste a hell of a lot better and maybe he’ll be the next DC restaurateur (watch out, Mike Isabella). Some of the program’s previous graduates are already working in DC restaurants, contributing to the area’s food culture.

Erik handled the project solo last year as it evolved from a word-of-mouth crawl with a few friends, to an official event with its own logo, website, and online registration. The whole thing came together so fast, that before Erik even realized it, he was in charge of a full-fledged doughnut crawl! This year, to help ease the burden, he’s enlisted the help of  Will Fischer (who planned a similar event in St. Louis called the Tour D’Onut) and BicycleSPACE, a local bike shop who’s agreed to sponsor the event.

This year’s stops include three delicious DC doughnut shops:

GBD doughnuts chicken
Photo Courtesy of Erik Kallevig

1.  Golden Brown Delicious (GBD)  – Pastry Chef, Tiffany MacIsaac whips up a great balance of traditional doughnuts (like the classic Vanilla Glazed) as well as new twists including Cranberry Fritter, Samoa, and Passion Fruit. They also serve fried chicken for lunch and dinner that is…well…golden, brown, and delicious.

astro doughnuts
Photo Courtesy of BicycleSPACE

2.  Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken – Having been ranked by the Washington Post as being the best doughnut in DC, the Crème Brûlée doughnut at Astro is worth the four-mile bike ride alone. I can say from personal experience that this doughnut will change your life (goodbye, Dunkin’ Donuts). But don’t make plans for lunch.

district doughnut
Photo Courtesy of District Doughnut

3.  District Doughnut – The crawl ends with a reception hosted by District Doughnut where crawlers can enjoy music, doughnut-themed games, food vendors, and plenty of those magical fried rings of deliciousness. As one of the newer entrants into the DC doughnut scene, Owner and Executive Pastry Chef, Christine Schaefer has created a formidable doughnut menu including Cannoli, Orange Chocolate, and (the one that I most want to try) BROWN BUTTER.

dc donut crawl cyclist
Photo Courtesy of BicycleSPACE

I had an engaging conversation with Erik about the DC Donut Crawl, doughnuts, and food in general. His fondest memory of the circular treats was a Maple Bar doughnut from Daylight Donuts in Searcy, Arkansas. He remembered it being a well-done, perfectly simple maple doughnut which helped him get through many early-morning classes in college. As we reminisced about doughnuts past and our love of the many brilliant food options in Vienna, VA, I realized something…

Erik Luchauer is just an ordinary guy with a passion for doughnuts.

It’s inspiring to see someone take the initiative to organize an event like this, which not only creates a fun experience for the attendees and helps support a local charity, but also promotes three brilliant doughnut-makers. The most effort I’ve ever put into my love of those golden rings was stuffing a dozen from Stan’s Doughnuts in LA into my checked bag to transport back home (shockingly none were confiscated by TSA agents for “national security”). So I’m clearly not putting in as much effort as Erik.

He was very appreciative of any and all supporters and he said that even one single retweet on Twitter was helpful. That’s a fantastic attitude to have and it helps boil down why we (foodies, bloggers, tweeters, etc.) do anything: We’re just looking for someone else to share an experience with. Doesn’t matter if it’s two friends or two hundred strangers. For me, just chatting with Erik for an hour was worth all of the time and effort I put into this blog, tweeting, and “testing” recipes.

dc donut crawl helmet
Photo Courtesy of BicycleSPACE

So there’s bike riding, doughnuts, a ton cool people, AND you get to help a great cause. I can’t see any downsides to this event, so hurry up and register right now. Don’t have a bike? No excuse, because Capitol BikeShare is offering 50 free 1-day memberships to crawlers.

More information can be found at and definitely follow @DCDonutCrawl on Twitter for updates and random doughnut-inspired tweets.

glorious doughnuts
Photo Courtesy of District Doughnut


Sophisticated Chicken Wings

fried chicken recipe

I’d hate to disparage buffalo wings, but I sometimes think they’ve unfairly cornered the market on chicken wings. Of course I enjoy them, but when you consider what makes a good buffalo wing experience, two-thirds of the equation (sauce and, well, MORE sauce for dipping), the chicken sometimes gets lost. Plus, if I’m going to take the time to make wings at home, I don’t want to undo all the hard work with a gallon of hot sauce.

flour dredge

My other bone to pick with buffalo wings is that their seemingly inflexible association with sports. Sure, it’s great manly food and is part of an historical sports bar experience, but have you ever tried to eat buffalo wings on your own couch while watching football? It’s stressful. Mostly because my home team is the Washington Redskins, but also because I’m trying hard not to re-paint our living room walls Buffalo Orange.


Why do we feel obligated to only eat wings during sporting events? Chicken wings deserve a shot at being a part of a nice balanced dinner plate. They’re always relegated to the appetizer menu or being part of a “basket” with French fries. Is it too much to put wings on a plate like a civilized human being? Is it too much to ask that wings be served with real side dishes besides fried potatoes? Is it too much to ask that we just show chicken wings a little respect for once?

Just so we’re clear, I AM still going to eat these guys with my hands. Fork-and-knifing it would be insane.

raw chicken vs flour

Enter, Sophisticated Chicken Wings. It’s as if fried chicken and a buffalo wing had a tuxedo-wearing baby. And even though that baby might forget to send a birthday card once in a while, he still appreciates his roots, he just wants a life that isn’t obsessively caked in breading or drowned in orange sauce.

There are tons of great fried chicken methods out there, but we like this one because it’s fairly easy and doesn’t require loooooooong overnight brine times. Also, it has fairly simple flavors. The wings aren’t caked in batter, so the skin has a chance to crisp up and work together with the flour dredge. (My stomach just growled after I typed “crisp up” so now I’m really wishing I saved a few leftovers for lunch…)


We don’t own a deep fryer, as we see it as a “gateway appliance” that would lead to other harder, unhealthy life choices (like fried candy bars and bacon weaving). So, partially out of necessity we pan-fried the wings. Sure, we could’ve still found a way to deep fry them, but there’s a comfort in seeing pan-fried chicken. You have to put some effort and a little more time into frying them, so by the time they’re cooked, you feel like you’ve been building up to this moment for decades. (Seriously should have saved one for lunch…) These have a nice kick from the cayenne without being what I would consider truly hot. If I were to make a nice dipping sauce with cooling properties (think Dill Ranch), I’d probably double the cayenne.

Fresh Thyme

Also after having eaten some of the best fried chicken of my life at Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, I really like the idea of adding fresh herbs. Since we have lots of Thyme overflowing on our windowsill, it was a pretty easy choice this time. (As a side note, I’m not joking about Wayfare having the best fried chicken of my life. We ate there on our wedding night and there’s a picture of the restaurant in our house as the first thing you see when you walk in. The chicken clearly made an impact.)

But enough about herbs and weddings…I won’t delay the inevitable any longer…

I give you, Sophisticated Fried Chicken Wings:

fried mushroom


Weird looking chicken wings, right? That’s because those are portobello mushrooms.


Okay, so I’ve been watching Game of Thrones, so I wanted to throw in a twist (but one that didn’t involve murder). Which brings me to the last reason why these are sophisticated: You can swap out the chicken for portobello mushrooms for a vegan option. Even my vegetarian wife misses fried chicken, so this helps ease those cravings a bit.

As a carnivore, there is nothing that can replace the crunchy fried chicken skin, BUT these mushrooms are still crunchy, tasty, delicious.

But seriously, here is the finished chicken all sophisticated and on a plate with grown-up sides like cauliflower mash and asparagus. Chicken wings and asparagus?! 

sophisticated fried chicken wings

Recipe:  Sophisticated Chicken Wings 

  • 12 Chicken Wings OR 4 Portobello Mushroom Caps
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Fresh Thyme
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • Vegetable Oil (for frying)

1.  Combine the flour, salt, cayenne, onion powder, thyme, and black pepper in either a plastic Ziploc bag or bowl with a lid. Now, this is important:  Taste it. Do you like it? If so, proceed to the next step. If you prefer more spice or salt, then keeping adding more until you’re happy.

2.  If you’re using mushrooms, clean them up softly with a damp cloth. Tina likes to trim them so they’re in squares and/or triangles, and you get a better crust-to-mushroom ratio versus keeping them whole. (Don’t throw away the trimmings! You can still use them even though they’re not “pretty.” ) Next, score the mushroom squares like you would a fish to allow the flour to get some penetration.

3.  Toss all of your wings or mushroom caps into the flour mixture. Get your hands dirty and massage the flour into all the nooks and crannies.

4.  Seal up your bag or bowl, place in a refrigerator and WAIT at least an hour. There’s a science behind why this helps the crust form (osmosis or mitosis or something). If you fry right away, some of the flour falls off and the crust doesn’t reach its full potential. You could probably let sit overnight and that wouldn’t hurt, but who wants to wait 12 hours for fried chicken?

5.  The last step is to fry those suckers up. Fill your favorite frying pan with enough oil so that the wings/shrooms will be about halfway submerged in the oil. Heat on a medium flame and once hot add said wings/shrooms. Fry until the underside is golden brown and flip; it should be about 10-12 minutes per side for the wings and 3-5 minutes per side for the mushrooms. The mushrooms can quickly turn from “almost done” to “too late,” so keep a close eye on them.

fried chicken

fried mushroom

Cooper's Corner, Recipes

Peanut Butter PUPcakes

Cooper pupcakes

On May 7th, our monster-dog, Cooper turned 28 in “dog years.” He won’t get to have a 30th birthday because the silly dog years calculation doesn’t allow it (well technically you could divide 30 dog years by 7 and get 4.28571 human years, which is approximately 4 years and 3.36 months, which would put us near the beginning of August, but then you have to figure out leap years and then try and fit all that info on an invitation and it’s all just TOO MUCH)…anyway, Tina decided to make him some “pupcakes” to help ease him into adulthood.


Part of the hope was that she would make cupcakes specifically for him and that we, as humans, might also enjoy them.


Not even a little. They sure look pretty, though.

When figuring out food sharing between humans and canine companions, there are three simple rules of thumb:

  • To dogs, human food tastes like the-best-thing-ever-OMG.
  • To humans, dog-friendly food tastes like garbage.
  • Oh and to dogs, garbage also tastes like the-best-thing-ever-OMG.

“It’s my birthday? Awesome! Hey, what’s a birthday?”

In actuality, all cupcakes (except chocolate) already are pupcakes, because dogs will eat and love anything we eat. Really, we should call regular cupcakes human pupcakes, because we’re the ones with the sophisticated palates who demand a certain quality in our desserts. Dogs aren’t asking for anything special! Cooper would be just as happy eating the banana cupcakes that I stuffed my face with last night. Hell, he’d eat a bag of flour if we let him. But we didn’t give him the banana cupcakes. Why?

Because sometimes it just feels nice to make something special for your dog. And although he’ll never fully grasp the idea behind it (or the idea of birthdays in general), he does appreciate the effort (even if his appreciation level for you making a pupcake is equivalent to you arriving home from work, “OMG-you’re-home-from-work-you’re-the-best-ever”). That’s why dogs are so great, because they love everything, even when we don’t.

Cooper smile




Tina found a pretty simple Doggie Birthday Cake recipe from for the cake and made a frosting (below) out of peanut butter and cream cheese.  It’s a small batch and only makes five cupcakes, but your dog probably doesn’t need to eat more than five anyway. And YOU won’t be eating any…


  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Directions:  Mix with a hand or stand mixer until smooth. Then, pipe onto cupcakes with a pastry bag/tip.

Peanut butter pupcakes

Misc Recipe Notes:

  • It’s been a full 24 hours and Cooper hasn’t climbed the stairs to our room and vomited on our bed, so I think we’re in the clear digestion-wise.
  • If you hate your co-workers, whip up a batch of these and leave them in the break room. Make sure to stand there and watch everyone eat them, so they have to lie to your face and tell you they’re delicious. Fun times.
  • Seriously, though they weren’t that bad. I’d liken them to a sugar-free peanut butter coffee cake with a savory peanut butter cream cheese frosting. Sounds horrible, right?

Peanut Butter Pupcakes