With Thanksgiving coming up, I have been all about the pumpkins. Completely versatile, pumpkins can go savory or sweet and can be used in ravioli, risotto, pies, cakes, lattes — the list goes on and on. Last year, for a “Pre-Thanksgiving” dinner with friends, I made a bourbon pumpkin cheesecake that was actually really easy and a fantastic addition to the fabulous spread of desserts we had. I may make it again this year, perhaps with a salted caramel twist. (I’ll admit, I’m easy prey for some of the food trends, but salted caramel is really just awesome.) For our recent winery trip, I thought we might want sweet treats to go with the Empanadas so I made Spiced Pumpkin Doughnuts with a Maple Icing Glaze. The confectioner sugar-based icing is the perfect complement to a well spiced pumpkin dough. I’d never made doughnuts before and was pleasantly surprised by how easy they were to make. The one tricky part was making sure that the shortening remained the right temperature. Too hot and you burn the doughnuts — too cool and they become soggy and oily. If you don’t have one, it’s best to invest in a candy/oil thermometer before trying to make the doughnuts.
Mr. Kitchen was my sous-chef on this one — we had a great time trying to make sure neither of us got third degree burns from splattering oil. As Mr. Kitchen found out — it’s best to gently place the dough in the oil — dropping it in = nasty blisters. There were the obligatory Dunkin Donuts “Time to make the donuts” references and lots of expletives as I grew impatient and tried rolling out the dough before it had totally chilled. Don’t try that — it’s an exercise in futility. Of course we just had to try the doughnuts out — you know, to make sure they were edible. (I think we probably “tasted” half a dozen each.) If this keeps up I’ll never fit in my wedding dress.
Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts With Maple Icing
Doughnuts (Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
*This recipe makes over 20 small doughnuts (if you’re re-rolling out the doughnut holes)
2 tablespoons butter (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup pure pumpkin (canned is fine)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
Shortening for deep frying (I think I probably used nearly half a container — you will want your shortening/oil to be at least an inch deep)
You will need a candy/oil thermometer for this for best results.
2 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
The Doughnuts: In a large bowl, beat butter with mixer on medium for about 1 minute. Add the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Beat until combined. Beat in pumpkin, buttermilk, egg and egg yolk, and vanilla until combined. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, stir in flour until well combined. Cover and chill for about 2-3 hours. After the dough has chilled, roll it out to about 1/8″ thickness (if you want thicker, bigger doughnuts, roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness). Cut with a floured doughnut cutter. Definitely dip the cutter in flour in between cuts. Re-roll out the dough as necessary (or reserve the centers for doughnut holes).
Keep a slotted spoon handy. Clip the thermometer to the side of a deep pan and add shortening and heat until the temperature reaches 365-370º. Very very carefully place the dough into the hot shortening. With the slotted spoon, turn over the doughnuts after about 45 seconds to 1 minute and cook for another 45 seconds or so. With the slotted spoon, remove the doughnuts and let drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.
The Icing: As the doughnuts cool, prepare the icing by beating together the confectioner’s sugar, milk and maple extract. Drizzle over the doughnuts. Best served warm or at room temperature.