For a quick fall treat, make these cinnamon sugar donut holes with apple cider caramel sauce. The soft, cakey donuts are fried until golden brown and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Dip those wonderful little bites in apple cider caramel and you won't be able to resist going for seconds!
Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes with Apple Cider Caramel
Apple cider caramel
- 1 cup apple cider (250 ml)
- ½ cup heavy cream (125 ml)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons butter (28 grams)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (222 grams)
- ½ cup granulated sugar, divided (100 grams)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dry milk powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons melted butter (28 grams)
- oil for frying
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Make the apple cider caramel. Bring apple cider to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and continue to simmer until the cider has reduced to 2 tablespoons.
- Combine reduced apple cider with heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a medium saucepot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium and continue to cook until a candy thermometer reads 230 degrees F. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ground ginger. Let cool.
- Preheat frying oil to 350 degrees F.
- Make the batter for the donut holes. Combine flour with ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, salt, dry milk powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat egg with milk and vanilla. Add to the dry mixture along with melted butter. The batter will be thick.
- Combine remaining ¼ sugar with cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the batter into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove the donuts with a slotted spoon and drain the excess oil on a paper towel. Toss the donuts in the cinnamon sugar and repeat with the remaining batter.
- Serve the donuts warm with apple cider caramel.
Watch how to make this:
- The Inspiration
- The Ingredients
- How to Make Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes with Apple Cider Caramel
Now that it's the end of September, that means I can drink apple cider all day long, right? Who am I kidding? I drink apple cider year-round. But now that the seasons are changing, it means I can share all of my apple cider and pumpkin recipes without looking like a crazy person. First are these addicting cinnamon sugar donut holes with apple cider caramel. With no yeast, these donut holes come together in no time. Toss them in cinnamon sugar and serve with homemade apple cider caramel sauce for the perfect fall treat.
The first time I made apple cider caramel for apple cider caramel stuffed snickerdoodles, my life was changed. I could not for the life of me stop eating the caramel. It's like caramel took a dive into fall flavors and morphed into something incredible. So I took that caramel and incorporated it into another dessert, cinnamon sugar donut holes with apple cider caramel. I am a firm believer that one should not only have one apple cider caramel dessert. And after you try the caramel yourself, I think you'll agree.
- Apple cider: Unlike apple juice which is filtered and pasteurized, apple cider is typically unfiltered and minimally processed. It tends to be crisp and slightly tart unlike apple juice which is often also sweeter.
- Light corn syrup: Although the corn syrup can be omitted, it helps prevent the sugar from crystallizing while giving the caramel a smooth and glossy texture.
- Heavy cream: The rich dairy adds a rich and creamy texture to the caramel while preventing sugar crystallization.
- All-purpose flour: Use all-purpose flour to achieve the desired texture and structure of a donut. Because it has a moderate protein content, it is able to yield a soft and tender donut with enough gluten structure.
- Cinnamon: To incorporate as much cinnamon as we can, we're going to add the spice to the apple cider caramel, and donut batter, and coat the outside of the donuts.
- Dry milk powder: Also known as powdered milk, the dairy product makes the donuts extra tender. If you can't find milk powder, you can omit it and still have great donut holes.
How to Make Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes with Apple Cider Caramel
Step 1: Make apple cider caramel sauce
To make the caramel, you have to first reduce apple cider. We want to make sure the caramel has a hefty amount of apple cider flavor so we're going to reduce the juice to concentrate the flavors. Simmer 1 cup apple cider until it's reduced to about 2 tablespoons. It'll take some time but once the juice starts to reduce to about ¼ cup, keep a close eye on it. It can quickly burn if let on the stove a tad too long.
Combine the reduced apple cider with heavy cream, sugar, light corn syrup, and butter, and bring it to a boil. Continue to heat the caramel until it reaches 230 degrees F. It's imperative to have a candy thermometer to help you know when the caramel is ready. If you cook the caramel for too long, it will start to become actual candies and not a caramel sauce.
Finish the sauce with warm spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, allspices, and ground ginger, and let it cool completely. You can also make the apple cider caramel up to 3 days in advance.
Step 2: Prepare donut batter
Now it's time to make the donut holes. This donut hole recipe does not include yeast, making it similar to a fritter. On the plus side, the batter comes together in a matter of minutes.
Just mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, add egg, milk, and melted butter, and mix until combined. The batter will be quite thick. If you don't have dry milk powder, you can simply omit it. I like adding dry milk powder to baked goods because it makes them more tender.
Step 3: Fry donuts
Preheat frying oil to 350 degrees F and carefully drop dollops of the donut batter into the oil. The donuts will expand quite a bit while it's cooking so make sure not to make them too big. I like to use a small scooper to portion the donuts.
Fry the donut holes until golden brown on all sides and remove them with a slotted spoon. Drain the excess oil on paper towels and toss them in the sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Serve the cinnamon sugar donut holes with a healthy serving of warm apple cider caramel and get ready to loosen your belt. You can drizzle the sauce directly on top, serve it on the side, or even pipe it into the donuts. Do what's easiest for you and don't hold back on the caramel! I think it's time for a third serving...
Can I make these donut holes into regular-sized donuts?
Yes, but they will end up being large fritters. Because the batter is not a dough, it's not easy to shape it into a standard donut ring size. You can make the donut holes into large fritters but keep in mind, they will take longer to fry.
Can I make these cinnamon sugar holes ahead of time?
As the donuts sit, the exterior will soften. They will still be good the next day if you reheat them in the microwave, however, they are best consumed immediately.
Are there other sauces that can be served with the cinnamon sugar donut holes?
Absolutely, you can serve the dessert with chocolate sauce, regular caramel, strawberry sauce, or almost any sweet sauce!
For more donut inspiration check out these chocolate tahini donuts!