What do you get when you combine a food entrepreneur, a precocious homeschooled child and a science lesson? If the entrepreneur is Deljah “Chef Simone” Dickson of Art Delectables and the child is her daughter, 9-year-old Madison Dorsey, you get donuts.
Dickson launched her L.A.-based organic catering company 9 years ago, specializing in cheesecake, which is her favorite dessert. But she wanted to make it healthier. “A lot of times we get organic or ‘healthy’ desserts and they really don’t taste very good at all,” she says. “My goal was to figure out how I could make something that tasted amazing, was lower in sugar but really really high in flavor, that convinced people that it was OK to eat better.”
All of her desserts – which now include brownies, blondies, cookies and other treats – are made with non-GMO whole ingredients. They also contain significanlty less sugar than traditional versions do. “You’ll find products that say ‘50% less sugar,’ but what we don’t actually understand as consumers is that what they’re calculating is just cane sugar,” Dickson explains. In the missing sugar’s place, you’ll find other sweeteners such as tapioca syrup or brown rice syrup. “When we say 50% less sugar, we mean that,” says Dickson. “We’re only using organic cane or brown sugar. And we cut the sugar by half.”
And Art Delectables is a family affair. The COO is Dickson’s mother, Clotee McAfee, who has more than 40 years of experience in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Madison, meanwhile, brainstorms flavors, desserts and business ideas with her CEO mom. One of Madison’s inspirations was the Kids Snack Pack, available with just blondies, or a combination of brownies, blondies, rice crispy treats and snickerdoodle cookies.
But back to the donuts.
Dickson and Madison made them for the first time as a way to review math and science concepts in a hands-on way. “And then we looked at each other and said, ‘We’re going to have to do this again. This is going to have to be a regular,’” Dickson says. She cut the sugar and used organic flour in her donut recipe to make them healthier, and she and Madison make them about once a month.
Now, you can, too. “It’s actually much easier than I thought it was,” Dickson says. “And fast. The most time you spend is waiting for them to cool a bit so you can eat them.”
She suggests using a skillet at least 3-4 inches deep, so the donuts don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Once you’ve cut out all of your donuts, you can reroll the scraps to see if you can cut out more, or just roll the smallest scraps of dough into balls and fry them (and the donut holes).
Dickson recommends that parents be the ones to drop the donuts into the hot oil – with tongs, if you’re nervous. Top them with whichever toppings you prefer (Dickson likes the brown butter icing, while Madison prefers sprinkles). If you can resist eating them all at once, store any that are left in an air-tight container. They will keep for a few days.
You can let the oil cool to room temperature, return it to its original container and save it as your “donut oil.” You’ll want to make these again!
The Quintessential Classic Donut from Art Delectables
2 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup organic or non-GMO cane sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup milk of your choice (whole milk will give you the best texture and taste)
1 egg, beaten
1 quart oil for frying (we use refined coconut oil, but organic canola is also a good option)
Toppings of your choice
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix in the butter until you see crumbly pieces begin to form.
Combine the milk, vanilla extract (and almond extract, if using) and beaten egg and beat together by hand. Gradually pour the egg-milk-extract mixture into the bowl with the flour and mix until smooth. Knead lightly in the mixing bowl, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll (or pat if you don’t have a rolling pin) to ¼-inch thickness. Cut with a doughnut cutter or biscuit or round cookie cutters of two different sizes.
Heat the oil in deep fryer or frying pan to 375 degrees. Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature.
Carefully drop the cut out doughnuts into the hot oil, a few at a time. Do not overcrowd the pan or the oil may overflow. Fry, turning once, for 3 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Be sure to keep the oil temperature at 375 degrees. Higher will burn the donuts before they finish cooking and if the temperature is too low it will saturate your donut in oil, eww.
Classic Cinnamon and Sugar Topping: Mix ½ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon until combined. Toss the donuts in the mixture while they are still warm.
Classic Flat Icing with Sprinkles: Blend 1 cup powdered sugar with 3-4 tablespoons of milk and¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Dip the cooled donuts into the icing and add colorful sprinkles of your little one’s choosing.
Grown-Up Icing: Melt one tablespoon of butter in a small skillet until brown bits begin to appear, stirring so as not to let those yummy bits burn. Blend 1 cup powdered sugar with 3-4 tablespoons milk and ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract, then add the browned butter. After dipping the cooled donuts in the icing, sprinkle with a pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt for a perfect savory-sweet snack.