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Doughnut Holes filled with Salted Caramel Pastry Cream |

Salted Caramel Doughnut Holes

  • Author: Rebecca Blackwell
  • Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
  • Yield: 52 doughnut holes


These doughnut holes are filled with salted caramel pastry cream and drizzled with salted caramel sauce.


For the doughnut dough:

  • 2 cups whole milk, at room temperature, between 75 and 85 degrees
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying


Make the salted caramel pastry cream filling:

  1. Add the pastry cream and 1 cup of the salted caramel sauce to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until fully incorporated, creamy and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance.

Make the doughnut holes:

  1. Pour the milk into the bowl of a standing mixer, and sprinkle in the sugar and yeast. Stir to combine and then let sit for about 5 minutes to let the yeast begin to come alive. Whisk in the egg, egg yolk, melted butter, vanilla, lemon zest, and nutmeg.
  2. Fit your mixer with the dough hook, add 5 cups of the all-purpose flour and mix on low speed (speed number 2 on a KitchenAid Mixer) until the dough begins to come together. Slowly add enough of the remaining cup of flour so that the dough comes together into a soft, slightly sticky ball. Depending on the humidity in the air, this might take the entire remaining cup or only a bit of it. What you're looking for is a soft, smooth ball of dough that clings to the dough hook, and does not stick to the sides of the bowl, but does stick slightly to the bottom of the bowl. If you stop the mixer and touch the dough, it should feel slightly sticky, but not so wet as to be confused with cookie dough.
  3. Once the dough has come together, sprinkle in the salt. Continue to knead in the mixer for about 8-10 minutes. The dough should look very soft and smooth.
  4. Butter a large bowl and dump the dough into the bowl. Butter a piece plastic wrap (or spray with non-stick spray) and use it to cover the bowl. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
  5. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. After the dough has risen, dump it out of the bowl onto a clean work surface and divide in half. Keep half covered while working with the other half. Divide the half portion of dough into 26 pieces and roll between your palms into golf ball sized balls. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet, spaced at least 1-inch apart. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick baking spray and cover the dough. Repeat with remaining half of dough.
  7. Allow the doughnut holes to rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, about 45 min to 1 hour.
  8. Heat a fryer to 375 degrees, OR pour enough vegetable oil into a large, deep saucepan to come up the sides 3 or 4 inches, and heat the oil to 350 degrees. Fry the doughnut holes, 6-8 at a time, for about 3 minutes, until a deep golden brown, using a slotted spoon to gently flip from side to side to encourage even browning. If large bubbles appear in the dough that prevent the doughnut holes from flipping over, use a sharp knife to gently pierce the bubble. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Do your best to keep the temperature of the oil between 360-375 degrees.
  9. Let the doughnuts cool completely before filling with salted caramel pastry cream.

Fill and glaze the doughnut holes:

  1. Fit a pastry bag with a round or star tip and fill the bag with pastry cream. Insert the tip into the side of each doughnut hole and squeeze in some pastry cream, until you see the sides of the doughnut hole expand a bit. When you remove the piping tip from the doughnut hole, a bit of pastry cream should seep outside, which is how you know you've filled them enough.
  2. Drizzle the tops of the doughnut holes with additional room temperature salted caramel sauce and serve.

NOTE: These doughnut holes are best the day they are made, preferably served within 3 hours of frying. However, they can be stored for up to 1 day, covered in the refrigerator. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving.

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes + 2-3 hours of rise time
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes

Keywords: doughnuts, homemade doughnuts, doughnut holes, caramel, salted caramel, yeast dough