HomeRecipesMaple Hickory Cruller by Danielle Marelli

Maple Hickory Cruller by Danielle Marelli

(This article appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

This dish highlights so many fall flavors that I love. Maple, hickory and oat remind me of the brown sugar oatmeal I’d eat for breakfast before school when it started to turn cold. When the cooler weather comes around, donuts at apple orchards and fests make a big comeback, and I wanted to combine those nostalgic feelings and flavors for my favorite time of year. The maple cruller is so simple, but so comforting and delicious. The hickory adds a warm, nutty depth to the dish and the toasted oat ice cream lingers on your palate just long enough to remind you of something familiar from your past. Desserts that evoke those feelings and emotions like this are my favorite to eat.

Yield: 12 servings

Maple Cruller

  • 125 g whole milk
  • 125 g water
  • 110 g unsalted butter
  • 20 g maple syrup
  • 5 g salt
  • 4g vanilla extract
  • 4 g maple extract
  • 1 g orange zest
  • 175 g pastry flour
  • 240 g whole eggs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Maple sugar, for coating
  1. Combine whole milk, water, butter, maple syrup, salt, vanilla extract, maple extract and orange zest in a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and add flour all at once, stirring until the mixture is combined and forms a paste. Return the pot to the heat and cook the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, until a film has formed over the bottom of the pot. The paste should be smooth.
  3. Transfer to a mixing bowl and mix on low speed until slightly cooled, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs gradually, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Transfer the finished choux paste to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe rounds to desired size on Silpat- or parchment paper- lined sheet. Freeze until firm.
  4. Prepare pot with about 4” of oil, and heat over medium heat until temperature registers 375˚F. Fry crullers 2 to 3 at a time for about 7 minutes, until golden brown, turning halfway through frying. Remove crullers from oil and drain on a wire rack. Toss in maple sugar until evenly coated.

Hickory Praline

  • 787 g hickory nuts
  • 550 g granulated sugar
  1. Toast hickory nuts at 300˚F for 20 minutes.
  2. Make a dry caramel with the sugar. Cast the caramel on a Silpat and let cool.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a Robot Coupe and mix until smooth.

Hickory Cremeux

  • 8 g gelatin
  • 293 g heavy cream
  • 293 g whole milk
  • 1 g salt
  • 74 g maple syrup
  • 74 g brown sugar
  • 195 g egg yolks
  • 100 g Hickory Praline (from above)
  1. Bloom gelatin.
  2. In saucepan, combine cream, milk, salt, maple syrup and brown sugar and bring to a simmer. Temper in egg yolks, return to heat and cook to 180˚F. Add gelatin and Hickory Praline. Blend by hand and let set overnight in cooler before using.

Maple Hickory Oat Clusters:

  • 100 g hickory nuts
  • 240 g rolled oats
  • 25 g wheat bran
  • 30 g olive oil
  • 3 g salt
  • 1 g ground cinnamon
  • 150 g maple syrup
  • 36 g egg whites
  1. Toast hickory nuts at 300˚F for 20 minutes. Let cool and chop into coarse pieces.
  2. Combine all ingredients except egg whites.
  3. In a separate bowl, gently whisk the egg whites until light and foamy. Stir into granola mixture until evenly coated. Spread in single layer on sheet pan and bake at 300˚F for 45 minutes. Halfway through baking, use large spatula to turn over sections of the granola carefully. Once baked, break clusters into desired sizes.

Maple “Syrup”

  • 375 g whole milk
  • 375 g heavy cream
  • 105 g maple syrup
  • 2 g salt
  • 3 g maple extract
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 150 g egg yolks
  1. In a pot, combine milk, cream, maple syrup, salt, maple extract and orange zest and bring to a simmer. Temper in egg yolks, return to heat and cook to 180˚F. Hand-blend and cool quickly in ice bath.

Toasted Oat Milk 

  • 330 g oats
  • 2520 g whole milk
  1. Toast oats at 350˚F for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
  2. Once cooled, combine oats and cold milk and process in Vitamix until smooth. Strain and let milk stand undisturbed in cooler for for 4 to 6 hours to allow sediment to fall.

Toasted Oat Ice Cream 

  • 108 g milk powder
  • 1575 g Toasted Oat Milk
  • 525 g heavy cream
  • 270 g maple syrup
  • 300 g granulated sugar
  • 90 g glucose powder
  • 210 g egg yolks
  • 6 g ice cream stabilizer
  • 5 g salt
  1. In saucepan, combine milk powder with cold Toasted Oat Milk (rescale lost milk, if needed) and cold cream and whisk until combined. Add all remaining ingredients and cook, whisking, to 185˚F. Let mature in cooler for at least 8 hours.
  2. Process base in Vitamix before spinning. Spin to desired consistency.


  • Orange for zesting
  • Edible pansies or nasturtiums
  1. Place Maple “Syrup” in a squeeze bottle and pipe a small puddle on plate. Place sugar-dusted cruller on top of syrup, letting the syrup show slightly. Place the Hickory Cremeux in a piping bag and fill center of cruller with it. Crumble some of the Oat Clusters on top of the cremeux and alongside the cruller.
  2. Place quenelle of Toasted Oat Ice Cream on top of the cruller. Zest fresh orange zest over ice cream and cruller. Garnish with seasonal edible pansies or nasturtiums.

Photo credit: Hannah Kim

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