Spiced Pumpkin Doughnut Holes | Print |
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Yum. Here’s the perfect, rich treat on a cool fall night. Crispy on the outside and deliciously moist on the inside, these pumpkin cake donut treats are spiced with ras el hanout—a Mediterranean spice blend. Feel free to use traditional pumpkin pie spice for an equally tasty donut! Serve them warm, drizzled with cajeta—that indulgent goat-milk caramel so beloved in Mexico.


Makes 24 doughnut holes


  • ½ cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 ½ tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
  • ¾ teaspoon Mediterranean spice mix (see recipe below) or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Expeller pressed canola oil, safflower oil or rice bran oil for frying
  • Bottled Mexican cajeta and/or confectioners’ sugar, for serving


  1. Stir together the pumpkin, butter, agave, spice mix and pepper in small bowl. In another small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg and egg yolks.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together 1 cup of the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Create a well in center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk mixture. Fold gently until flour mixture is moistened. Gently fold in the pumpkin mixture. Sift the last cup of cake flour over the mixture and fold gently until combined. (The batter can rest covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Make sure you allow it to return to room temperature before frying.)
  3. Prepare a cooling rack set over a baking sheet or paper towels to drain the fried doughnuts.
  4. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a deep-sided skillet or wide saucepan. Heat over medium until oil reaches 350o on a deep-fry thermometer
  5. Gently drop pumpkin batter in small amounts, each about ½ tablespoon, into the heated oil. Be careful not to crowd the pan. Deep-fry, flipping once for even cooking, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on the rack.
  6. Serve warm drizzled with cajeta and/or a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.


Mediterranean Spice Mix


Makes about 1/3 cup


  • 5 dried arbol chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons each: cinnamon, garam masala, smoked paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon each, ground: cloves, ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground medium roast coffee beans


  1. Put all ingredients,  except the coffee, in a small nonstick skillet. Toast, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  2. Finely grind the cooled mixture with the coffee in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. The spice mixture will keep for a few months in your spice cupboard.