These Pumpkin Cheesecake Doughnuts are fluffy brioche doughnuts that are rolled in pumpkin spiced sugar, then filled with a creamy, perfectly spiced pumpkin cheesecake filling.
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Pumpkin Cheesecake Doughnuts
These Pumpkin Cheesecake Doughnuts are soft and fluffy, tossed in pumpkin spice sugar, and then filled with a not-too-sweet and perfectly spiced pumpkin cheesecake filling. It's basically the ultimate fall doughnut. If you're looking for other fall dessert recipes, check out these baked apple cider donuts or other easy donut recipes!
Ingredients for Pumpkin Cheesecake Doughnuts
We’re using a pretty straightforward brioche dough for these doughnuts and you only need a few ingredients to begin. Here's what you'll need:
- Milk: Whole milk is a must for the most tender dough. Lower fat and nondairy milks work as well, but the doughnuts won't be as flavorful or rich.
- Yeast: You can use active dry yeast or instant yeast. If using instant yeast, your rise time will be a little shorter.
- Sugar: Sugar sweetens the doughnuts and tenderizes the dough.
- Eggs: Eggs provide structure and flavor to the dough.
- Butter: Room temperature butter makes for a rich dough and promises an enhanced flavor.
- Salt & Vanilla Bean Paste: Both of these add flavor. You could also use vanilla extract if that's all you have on hand!
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the dough’s structure. You’ll be tempted to add more and more flour as you mix the dough, but don’t! You want a soft, pillowy dough for soft, pillowy doughnuts.
- Pumpkin: Make sure you use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling!
- Cream Cheese: They wouldn't be pumpkin cheesecake doughnuts without it!
- Cinnamon & Pumpkin Pie Spice: To flavor our filling and make the spiced sugar!
How to Make Pumpkin Cheesecake Doughnuts
There are two key components to these pumpkin cheesecake doughnuts: the brioche doughnuts and the pumpkin cheesecake filling (obviously).
1. The Brioche Dough
Start by adding the milk, yeast, eggs, flour, salt, vanilla bean paste, and sugar to a large bowl and stir until just combined. Then you'll knead the dough until a firm, but slightly tacky ball is formed; resist the temptation of adding too much flour! Once the dough has formed, you'll slowly add the softened butter in a little at a time, allowing each bit to incorporate before you add the next. After all the butter is incorporated, you'll knead for another 10 minutes or so.
As soon as the dough is kneaded and smooth, place it in a lightly greased bowl to rise for about 60-90 minutes. Note: Instead of using warm milk to mix the dough, use room temperature milk and refrigerate the dough immediately after mixing. Under refrigeration, the dough continues to rise, just much more slowly. This means you can mix the dough up to 12 hours ahead, let it rise slowly overnight, and wake up ready to fry in the morning.
To shape the dough, there are two different routes you can take! You can either 1) divide the dough into portions (we did 75g per doughnut), shape them into balls, and press them slightly to flatten OR 2) roll the dough out until about ½-inch thick and cut out the circles using a biscuit cutter. Once they're shaped, leave them to proof and make your pumpkin cheesecake filling!
2. The Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
You'll notice the recipe calls for reducing the pumpkin over the stove before beating it with the rest of the filling ingredients. I highly advise you not to skip this step! Doing so reduces the excess moisture that pumpkin puree normally contains and thickens up the filling nicely. The last thing you want is a loose pumpkin cheesecake mixture leaking out of your doughnuts, trust me!
To make the pumpkin cheesecake filling, you'll start by cooking the pumpkin puree over medium heat until it begins to reduce and thicken up and then allow it to cool before proceeding. Once your reduced pumpkin has cooled down, you'll beat it together with the cream cheese. Once combined, you'll add the powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and a pinch of salt, and beat until smooth and well combined. Then ta-da! Your filling is ready to go!
Pumpkin Cheesecake Doughnuts Recipe Troubleshooting & FAQ
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE DOUGHNUTS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long do these doughnuts stay fresh?
These pumpkin cheesecake doughnuts should really be consumed the day they are fried and filled. Over time the doughnuts lose their luster. As the filling sits, it will make the inside of the doughnut soft and soggy. And because the filling is made with uncooked cream cheese (aka something that needs to refrigerated!), it’s best to eat them ASAP.
Can I halve this recipe?
Yes! You can easily halve the recipe and make these small batch. You can adjust the 'servings' slider from 14 to 7 in the recipe card to get the proper measurements. Just keep the amount of yeast the same.
Can I bake these doughnuts instead of frying them?
Unfortunately, no. This recipe was developed to be fried and if you attempt to bake them, you'll end up with something closer to a hamburger bun than a doughnut. I have some baked donut recipes here though!
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE DOUGHNUTS: TROUBLESHOOTING
My doughnuts are oily! What did I do wrong?
It sounds like your oil wasn't hot enough! Many fearful fryers set the oil temperature too low thinking that it will make frying more forgiving. Frying at too low a temperature, however, will result in greasy doughnuts with a tough crust. Next time, watch the oil’s temperature carefully as you fry and adjust the heat as needed to maintain a temperature between 350°F (175°C) and 360°F (180°C). It’s better to add doughnuts to slightly warmer-than-desired oil, as the dough will bring the oil temperature down a few degrees, than too-cool oil.
If your oil temperature was fine, then it's possible you didn't properly drain the doughnuts. Drain the doughnuts over the pot of oil for at least 10 seconds (a gentle shake will force oil off the doughnut). Move the fried doughnuts to a paper towel-lined sheet pan, where the towels will wick away leftover oil. And then finally move the drained doughnuts to a cooling rack so that they aren’t sitting in a pool of their own oil before filling them.
My doughnuts are dense! What did I do wrong?
Dense doughnuts that don't puff up much when fried result from under-proofing. To check if your doughnuts are ready to be fried, lightly poke/prod the first doughnut you cut/rolled. If the indentation immediately bounces back and disappears, the dough isn't ready yet. If it stays, however, it's ready to be fried!
My doughnuts are raw in the middle! What did I do wrong?
Two things can cause doughnuts that are raw in the middle. The most common reason is from frying them in oil that is too hot. When the oil is too hot, the outside cooks much quicker before the inside has a chance to catch up. I'd recommend using a thermometer to monitor your oil temperature to avoid this problem!
If you monitored your oil and kept it at the ideal frying temperature, then your doughnuts are raw in the middle simply because you made them too big/too thick!
Pumpkin Cheesecake Doughnuts
For the Brioche Dough:
- 250 g milk lukewarm
- 50 g granulated sugar
- 2¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 565 g all-purpose flour
- 100 g unsalted butter diced and softened
For the Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling:
- 280 g pumpkin puree (reduced to 200g-see below)
- 450 g cream cheese softened
- 100 g powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- pinch of fine sea salt
For the Pumpkin Spice Sugar:
- 200 g granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
For the Pumpkin Cheesecake Doughnuts:
- canola oil for frying
To Make the Brioche Doughnuts:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, mix together the milk, yeast, and 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of the granulated sugar. Add the remaining sugar, eggs, flour, salt, and vanilla bean paste and mix until the ingredients are just barely combined.
- Using the hook attachment, beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes until a soft dough forms. With the mixer running slowly, add in the butter, a piece or two at a time, working it into the dough, then knead for a further 10–15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulling away from the sides of the bowl. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.*
- Tip the dough into a large, lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes. Alternatively, you can refrigerate the dough and allow it to rise overnight (The dough is much easier to handle when thoroughly chilled.)
To Make the Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling:
- In a medium saucepan, cook the pumpkin puree over medium heat until it begins to reduce and thicken up, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool before proceeding.
- In large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and 200g of the cooled reduced pumpkin puree. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and pinch of salt, and beat until smooth and well combined.
To Make the Pumpkin Spice Sugar:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Set aside until needed.
Frying and Assembly:
- Shape the doughnuts: Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Weigh the dough, and divide into 14 equal weight portions; each piece of dough should weigh about 75g. Roll each portion into a tight ball and then slightly flatten the ball into a disc shape. Place the doughnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving an adequate space between each one, then cover with plastic wrap. (You will need two baking sheets.)
- Allow the doughnuts to proof for 20 minutes (this will take longer if your dough is cold but just check after 20 minutes to see how they are doing). When you poke them lightly with your finger, it should leave a small indentation.
- While the doughnuts are proofing, heat the canola oil to 350°F (180°C) in a deep fryer or a large heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron works great). Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels for draining the doughnuts.
- Fry the doughnuts: Once the oil has come to temperature, gently lower the doughnuts (no more than 2-3 at a time) into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown on the underside, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn the doughnuts over and fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until the other side is golden brown as well. Using a slotted spoon, remove the doughnuts to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to remove any excess oil, and then transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat the process with the rest of the doughnuts.
- As soon as the doughnuts are cool enough to handle, toss them in the pumpkin spice sugar one at a time to evenly coat them. Return the doughnuts to the cooling rack and allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes. In the meantime, transfer the pumpkin cheesecake filling to a piping bag.
- Poke a hole in the side of each doughnut and fill with the pumpkin cheesecake filling. The doughnuts should be served as soon as they are filled. They are best the same day they are made.
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