Hazelnut Apple Crisp Doughnuts

Hazelnut Apple Crisp Doughnuts

I’ve been thinking about doughnuts quite a bit, lately.  Doughnuts have always occupied at least a portion of my mind, but their territory has been rapidly expanding over the past few months.

Hazelnut Apple Crisp Doughnuts
Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been very lucky — no bouts with morning sickness, little fatigue and minimal aches and pains.  I also have not experienced any of the odd food combination cravings that you always hear about — nobody was more relieved about this than Eric, who had been bracing himself for 2 a.m. runs to Smith’s for capers and Cocoa Puffs.

Sure, I’ve had cravings, but they’ve all been for foods that I enjoyed long before being pregnant: hummus, chicken kebabs from Crazy Pita, and yes, doughnuts.

Hazelnut Apple Crisp Doughnuts

Here’s the thing:  Recently, I’ve noticed a trend.  It’s happening in Las Vegas, and I’ve noticed it happening in other major cities as well.  Doughnuts have gone high-fashion, similar to the way that cupcakes did ten years ago.  We’ve had a handful of doughnut shops pop up in our city over the last year, each swathed in vibrant, retro decor with bubbly-font bright neon signs hanging out front.  These are not your mother’s doughnut shops, offering up flavors such as S’more, Captain Crunch, and even savory options like Monte Cristo.

Um, no.

Hazelnut Apple Crisp Doughnuts

While these doughnuts are definitely innovative, they are also definitely not the doughnuts that I have been craving.  The doughnuts that I have been craving are the old-school bakery doughnuts from my childhood: the glazed, sugar-coated, maple-frosted or sprinkle-topped.  THAT’S about as fancy schmancy as I want to go these days.  They can be cake texture or yeast-raised, chocolate or plain, round or oblong…..but if you start throwing marshmallow fluff, cream cheese drizzle or, God forbid, Nutella on top, you’ve lost me.

Fortunately, we have a couple of great old-fashioned family-run doughnut shops here in Las Vegas, like Real Donuts, where rows of freshly made crullers, fritters and jelly doughnuts welcome you upon arrival, and a dozen will cost you a very un-fancy $10. It’s a bit of a drive for me (and totally worth it), but in a doughnut-emergency-pinch I might have been known to stop by my neighborhood Smith’s for a glazed…….although as a food professional I will vehemently deny this, if questioned.

Hazelnut Apple Crisp Doughnut Holes

The only doughnut varietal that I have not been able to successfully locate here in Las Vegas is a nostalgic one from my childhood growing up on the east coast: the apple cider doughnut.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing as everyone knows that the best apple cider doughnuts are found at roadside farm stands and, well, Las Vegas isn’t exactly in the running for The Farm Stand Capital of the World.

So, I decided to make my own version of these quintessential fall treats, incorporating a double-dose of cider via the spiced apple mixture in the dough and the slightly tart glaze, which helps to cut through the sweetness of the hazelnut-sugar crust.  They make equally good doughnut holes as they do traditional doughnuts.  I know this because I taste-tested them both extensively.  It’s my job as a blogger, after all.

Apple Crisp Doughnut Dough

Let’s just say that my craving has been cured……for now.

These doughnuts are of course best eaten warm, freshly coated in glaze and sugar, but they were also pretty darn good on days 2 and 3, after being stored in air-tight containers.

Hazelnut Apple Crisp Doughnuts

Prep Time: 60 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours

Yield: Makes about 20 Doughnuts and 20 Holes

Serving Size: 1 doughnut

Hazelnut Apple Crisp Doughnuts

Inspired by one of my favorite fall desserts, warm apple crisp with streusel topping, these doughnuts are flavored with a chunky spiced apple mixture and coated with a toasted hazelnut sugar. A tart cider glaze cuts through the sweetness and creates a slightly crunchy crust.


    For the Spiced Apple Mix
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter
  • 2 large tart apples (such as Granny Smith), cored and chopped
  • 1 cup (250 mL) apple cider
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • For the Doughnuts
  • 3-1/2 cups (875 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp (20 mL) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) baking soda
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp (60 mL) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) full-fat sour cream
  • For the Cider Glaze
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) apple cider
  • 2 cups (500 mL) powdered sugar
  • For the Hazelnut Sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (250 mL) lightly toasted chopped hazelnuts
  • For Frying
  • Canola or vegetable oil


    Prepare the Spiced Apple Filling
  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples and saute until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the cider and cook until the apples are very tender and the cider has reduced to about 1/4 cup (60 mL), 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, salt and cornstarch to the pan; toss to combine.
  3. Cook the mixture until the sauce has thickened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the vanilla then set mixture aside to cool completely.
  4. Prepare the Doughnut Dough
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  6. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter until well combined. Beat in the egg, followed by both of the yolks and the vanilla, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream, followed by 1-1/4 cups of the Spiced Apple Mixture (you might have some leftover.) Gradually beat in the flour mixture, mixing just until combined.
  7. Cover the bowl and chill dough at least 3 hours or overnight.
  8. Prepare the Cider Glaze
  9. In a medium saucepan, simmer the 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) apple cider until it has reduced to about 1/3 cup (75 mL). Whisk in the powdered sugar until the mixture is smooth. Keep warm or rewarm just before coating doughnuts.
  10. Prepare the Hazelnut Sugar
  11. In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to combine. Add the chopped hazelnuts and process until the mixture is finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish or container, suitable for dipping doughnuts.
  12. Prepare the Doughnuts
  13. Place one or two wire racks over paper towels or parchment paper and dust your work surface with flour. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  14. Roll out 1/3 of the dough to a thickness of about 1/2-inch. Using a 2-1/2 inch round cutter, cut out rounds and place them on the prepared baking sheets. Use a 1-inch round cutter to cut out the middle of each round for doughnut holes. Reroll scraps as necessary and repeat the process with the remaining dough.
  15. Pour canola or vegetable oil into a large, deep skillet until it has a depth of about 2 inches. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the skillet and heat the oil to a temperature of 350F degrees.
  16. Working in batches of 3-4 at a time, carefully place the doughnuts into the hot oil and fry until deep golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side. Doughnut holes should take about 1 minute per side. Keep your eye on the oil temperature to ensure that it maintains 350F degrees. Use a slotted spoon to transfer fried doughnuts to the prepared wire racks to drain.
  17. Coat the Doughnuts
  18. Dip the top side of each warm doughnut into the warm cider glaze, allowing excess to drip off. Then, dip the glazed side of each doughnut into the hazelnut sugar. For doughnut holes, you can coat the entire hole in both glaze and sugar. Serve as soon as possible--you can't beat a freshly made warm doughnut!



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