Dirty Chai Cream Filled Doughnuts are the best kind of weekend brunch treat: doughnuts and coffee in one! They’re deep fried, dusted in chai spiced sugar, then filled with an espresso-chai pastry cream. They’re light as air, not too sweet, and the perfect balance of cozy fall spices and rich espresso. All you need on a Saturday morning!
I’m a huge proponent of deep frying things when it’s worth it – and these doughnuts are SO very worth it. I always look forward to baking projects in the fall, and one of the first things I do when I feel that chill in the air is make doughnuts. Deep fried doughnuts. Last year it was these apple pie ricotta doughnuts with dark chocolate fudge dipping sauce (I KNOW), and the year before, I made apple cider doughnuts! And for one of my favorite non-doughnut fall baking projects that I love to make this time of year: apple fritter pull apart bread with cream cheese icing. And now, these dirty chai CREAM filled doughnuts! I know, sounds like a labor of love. But 1000% worth the effort.
I’m a coffee purist, except for when it’s fall and I crave all the dirty chai iced lattes. This little café near me makes the BEST and it’s kind of what inspired these doughnuts. And, I’m just kind of obsessed with all things dirty chai.
Espresso + chai spices + a little sweetness + milk = one of the best combinations. Especially when it comes to doughnuts!
The dough for these babies is from my apple fritter pull apart bread, well, because, I don’t think that dough could be any more perfect. I am a HUGE yeast doughnut fan, no matter what. Cake doughnuts just don’t do it for me.
Sure, they’re good, but they can’t hold a candle to a fried, puffy, yeasted doughnut.
Especially when they’re covered in chai spiced sugar. Sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, espresso powder, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice get mixed together, and then the hot doughnuts get covered in that goodness.
As if they could be improved upon, they get filled with dirty chai pastry cream!
And I know that sounds difficult to make, but if you’ve never made pastry cream, it really couldn’t be easier!
It’s perfectly spiced, with hints of espresso, and not too sweet. The sugar coated doughnuts are sweet enough themselves, and the filling just adds that extra “something.” I’m not usually a cream filled doughnut person, but these are another story. Homemade cream filled doughnuts are SO different and so much better.
For the pastry cream, all you need is whole milk, vanilla, egg yolks, sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, espresso, and chai spices. It’s super simple, and just requires a little attention and TLC to prevent the yolks from scrambling!
And it’s one of those things you’ll have a hard time not eating with a spoon.
And if you’re like omg these are so high maintenance and I hate frying things, you can do this in steps to make it more manageable!
Here’s how I’d recommend prepping these:
- Make the pastry cream the night before, and store it in the fridge in a sealed container (with plastic wrap directly on the surface to help prevent a skin from forming!)
- Make the chai-spiced sugar the night before, and just keep it in a container on the counter.
- Quickly make the dough the morning of, so it has time to rise in time for brunch!
- Fry them right before you’re ready to serve, because nothing’s better! (And sorry, there’s no shortcut for frying doughnuts 🙂 )
- Fill them right before you’re ready to serve (make sure you have your pastry bag all set up the night before!)
So if you do it in steps, it’s not nearly as daunting. I actually enjoy the process SO much, and you can make it a fun weekend project!
I always think of doughnuts as a “brunch dessert” kind of thing, but these would be a really awesome and unique fall dessert to make for a party! You could totally make them the morning of, and just leave them on an uncovered platter until you’re ready for them. (If you’re making them ahead, don’t store them in a sealed container, because the moisture in the dough _ pastry cream will kind of sweat, and it’ll make the sugar weird.) So leave them uncovered! No one wants a soggy doughnut.
But, I’m pretty sure I’d eat these in any form.
That dough is so fluffy and perfect I could cry!
And my fall doughnut making bucket list is complete. <3
Dirty Chai Cream Filled Doughnuts
Dirty Chai Cream Filled Doughnuts are the best kind of weekend brunch treat: doughnuts and coffee in one! They're deep fried, dusted in chai spiced sugar, then filled with an espresso-chai pastry cream. They're light as air, not too sweet, and the perfect balance of cozy fall spices and rich espresso. All you need on a Saturday morning!
For the dough
- 2 3/4 cups (+ 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the chai-spiced sugar coating
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
For the dirty chai filling
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup cornstarch, sifted
- 2 tablespoons brewed espresso
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
For the doughnuts
Pour yeast into a small bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of warm water. Add a pinch of granulated sugar and let sit for about 5 minutes. You'll know it's ready when it's foamy.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, the activated yeast, and salt. Set aside. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs and set aside.
In a small saucepan, over medium/low heat, melt the milk and butter until butter has just melted. Remove from the heat immediately and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture sit for 1-2 minutes to cool off a bit.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. Dough will be sticky.
Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. I just sprayed mine with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot and allow dough to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Once dough has risen, punch it down and add the last 2 tablespoons of flour. Knead with your hands to combine. Divide the dough into 16 even pieces. Roll into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Add oil to a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven. Heat to 375℉. Carefully lower a few doughnuts at a time into the oil, using a spider or slotted spoon. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, or until doughnuts are golden and cooked through. (Make sure your oil doesn't get too hot, or else the doughnuts won't cook through in the middle! You'll have to monitor the oil temperature throughout the frying process.) Shake off excess oil and roll in the chai-spiced sugar to coat. Let cool on a cooling rack lined with paper towels. Repeat until all doughnuts are fried.
Once doughnuts are cool enough to handle, using a toothpick or skewer, poke a hole through the center of the doughnuts lengthwise, to help with the filling process. Add pastry cream to a pastry bag fitted with a small-medium tip, and pipe the filling into the doughnuts until filled. Enjoy!
For the chai-spiced sugar coating
In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, espresso powder, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice until incorporated. Set aside.
For the dirty chai filling
Add milk and vanilla to a medium saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Once simmering, remove from heat and set aside.
Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and egg yolks to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until very thick, about 3 minutes. (Alternately, you can use electric beaters and a mixing bowl.) Add the cornstarch and beat for another minute or so, or until incorporated. Lower the speed, and gradually add half of the hot milk into the egg/sugar mixture and mix until combined. Add the egg/sugar mixture to the pan with the remaining hot milk. Heat over medium heat until thickened and boiling, whisking constantly, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in espresso, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Let cool, then put in a container and place plastic wrap directly onto surface of pastry cream. Chill in the refrigerator until cold, at least 3 hours.
pastry cream adapted from here.