Ever since I moved away from Washington in 2013, I’ve lived in places that don’t really experience all four seasons. Fall in Las Vegas was similar to fall here in Florida—basically nonexistent. The only thing that somewhat reminded us that it was autumn was Gilcrease Orchard (you can see more photos of it here). Surprisingly apples and pumpkins can grow in the desert! At this little oasis, you could pick your own pumpkins, apples and other seasonal produce. They also serve homemade apple cider and apple cider doughnuts, which are to die for! Since I see all of my Vegas friends post about them on Instagram this time of year, I decided to make my own version. These mini doughnuts are made with apple cider and fried to be crispy on the outside, but soft and fluffy inside. Then they are topped with a dollop of cream cheese frosting, which I spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. I used this same frosting for the apple cider cupcakes that I shared on Inspired by This recently. You’ll only use about half of the frosting for this doughnut recipe, but I find that scaling down the recipe any farther makes it difficult to mix properly. You can put the leftover frosting into an airtight container and save for later—just let it warm up to room temperature and mix on medium-high speed for about a minute to make it fluffy again. Enjoy!
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Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious.
Mini Apple Cider Doughnuts
These doughnuts are delightful bites with your favorite fall flavors: apple cider, cinnamon and nutmeg.
For the doughnuts:
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 3 Tbsp. butter melted and cooled
- oil for frying
For the frosting:
- 4 oz. cream cheese room temperature
- 1/4 cup butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- pinch of salt
For the doughnuts:
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat apple cider until reduced to 1/2 cup (usually takes about 12 – 15 minutes). Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and place into refrigerator to cool completely (about 30 minutes).
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Remove cooled apple cider for refrigerator and add the egg and cooled butter. Whisk until smooth. It's important for the butter to be completely cooled, otherwise the mixture will curdle/egg will cook. Pour over the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to stir just until moist. Cover and place in refrigerator to chill for one hour.
When ready to fry, heat the oil to 360F. I used a deep fryer, but you could also use a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and cover with a paper towel (the baking sheet just makes cleanup easier), set aside.
Working on a lightly floured surface, roll dough until it's 1/2-inch thick. Cut using a round cookie cutter about 1 3/4" in diameter. For the smaller hole, I used a piping tip about 1/2" in diameter.
Place several doughnuts (I used 3 at a time) in the oil and cook for about 45 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to covered cooling rack. Repeat until all doughnuts are fried.
For the frosting:
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer), beat cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth and creamy.
Add powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, then turn up to high speed and beat for 1 – 2 more minutes. You can add more powdered sugar if you want the frosting to be thicker.
Transfer to piping bag fitted with desired attachment and place a dollop on top of each doughnut. It's best if the doughnuts have cooled slightly, otherwise the frosting will melt. Enjoy warm!