I ate an obscene amount of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a kid. My mom would make them and pack them in my lunch almost every single day, along with cool ranch doritos. I may or may not have put the chips into my pb&j sandwiches. It’s a secret, but I’ll give you a hint, and it’s yes. It was a production and one that I looked forward to every day at lunch in the cafeteria. Now as an adult, I don’t eat as many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as I would like to, but I still do get a craving every once in a while. When that happens, I like to eat pb&j inspired dishes, instead of the boring ol’ sandwich I ate all the time when I was younger. This Peanut Butter and Jelly Coffee Cake or PB&J Cupcakes are among some of my favorite desserts. This time around, I’ve decided to make PB&J Mini Doughnuts because we all know doughnuts are far superior to anything else, and because I’m always looking for an excuse to eat sweetened fried dough whenever possible.
The operative and most important word in this recipe is not doughnuts, but rather mini. These doughnuts are made to be miniature for the sole purpose that you can eat as many as you’d like, without judgement. So I say that the only solution to this problem is that you make a big batch, even if it’s just you by yourself, and give this recipe a try. Mini means you can snack on them throughout the day, and feel like you haven’t made a dent. What are you waiting for? Don’t you want to feel nostalgic, like you’re a kid again eating a pb&j sandwich in school? What better way to do that than with fluffy homemade fried doughnuts?
Let’s start by making the doughnut dough. Before you start panicking though, I promise it’s super easy to make. Don’t let yeast doughs scare you. This is my go-to doughnut dough recipe, which I used for these Chocolate Doughnut Twists from a while back. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the warm milk, melted butter, yeast and sugar. Let sit for about 10 to 15 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
**Note: I like to melt the butter along while the milk is warming on the stove. Just ensure that the milk doesn’t get too hot. You want it to be about 110 degrees F. If it gets too hot, don’t add the yeast yet. Allow it to cool down and then add the yeast.**
Stir in the egg, salt, and 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour. Mix on medium using the dough hook attachment until the dough comes together. Then work in enough of the remaining flour as needed to create a soft and somewhat sticky dough. It should pull away from the sides but stick to the bottom just slightly. Knead on medium-high until soft and pliable, about 7 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning over to coat both sides. Then cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
**Tip: I like to allow my yeast doughs to rest on top of the fridge because it’s nice and warm and cozy up there. Or in an oven that I’ve turned on for like a minute and then turned off. Just long enough to get it barely warm, if you can call it that.**
If you’re not going to use the dough right away, you can keep it in the fridge up to overnight. Just allow the dough to come to room temperature for about half an hour before you roll it out. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and transfer to a well floured work surface. Roll out to about 1/2-inch thick.
Cut into small circles using a 3 or 4-inch round cutter, depending on how big you want these doughnuts. These are mini so I used a 3-inch cutter. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with a damp towel and allow to rest while the oil comes up to temperature.
Fill a large dutch oven about halfway with canola or vegetable oil. Heat to about 350 degrees F using a candy or deep-fry thermometer to keep track of the temperature. Fry the doughnuts in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pot, for about 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown. Flip over and continue to fry for another 1 to 2 minutes or again, until golden brown. Drain and transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet, to prevent them from getting soggy. Continue frying the rest.
Once all the doughnuts have been fried, it’s time to fill them. Give the jelly a big stir to loosen it up a bit, and then transfer to a disposable piping bag, fitted with a small metal circle tip. This will make it easier to pipe the jelly into each doughnut. To fill, use a sharp pairing knife to make a hole on the side of each. Then pipe about 1 to 2 teaspoons of jelly into each one.
**Note: I used strawberry jelly because I’m not a fan of the classic grape jelly, but feel free to use whatever flavor you like. Stay away from chunky preserves or jams, it’ll be hard to pipe into the doughnuts because of the chunks.**
To make the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, peanut butter, salt, vanilla and milk until it’s a pourable consistency. Then dip one side of each filled doughnut into the glaze, returning them to the wire rack.
This will be the hardest part, but for an optimal doughnut experience, it’s crucial that you give the glaze a chance to set for about 5 to 10 minutes before you dig in. It’s a test of sheer will power, I assure you, but it’s worth it. To pass the time you can run in place, do jumping jacks or dance for 10 minutes straight in order to eat more doughnuts.
As with any other fried dough, these are best when eaten the day you make them. I know that isn’t always possible, so if you don’t have friends, family or neighbors that can help you eat them all, then you can wrap the leftovers in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container at room temperature until the next day. But note that they won’t be as soft as the first day.
You can of course make these full sized doughnuts, by cutting them out into large circles and then filling with more jelly. I like the mini size, because they’re a bit bigger than doughnut hole size, making it less tedious to fill and dip, but they’re also not too big so that you feel bad you’re eating so many of them. It’s a good balance. Plus, I feel like their size is perfect for parties or a brunch you might be throwing.
This week I think you should ditch that sad pb&j sandwich and make these pb&j mini doughnuts instead. You’ll get your peanut butter and jelly fix, but in a more fun and flavorful way. Plus, you’ll make your friends, family, neighbors, cat, super happy. Enjoy!
- 1¼ cups whole milk, warmed to about 110 degrees F
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet instant dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- canola or vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup strawberry jelly (or any flavor you like)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 4 to 6 tablespoons whole milk
- To make the dough, in the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the warm milk, melted butter, yeast and sugar. Let sit for about 10 to 15 minutes until the yeast starts to foam up a bit. Add in the egg, 3½ cups flour and salt, and mix with the dough hook attachment until the dough begins to come together. Add in as much of the remaining flour, ¼ cup at a time, as needed to create a soft and somewhat sticky dough. It should come away from the sides of the bowl and just slightly stick to the bottom. Allow the dough to knead on medium-high until soft, about 7 minutes. Remove the dough and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, turning it over to coat both side. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm spot to double in size, about 1 hour.
- Transfer the dough to well floured work surface and roll out to about ½-inch thick. Cut into circle using a 3-inch round cutter. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest while the oil heats up.
- Fill a large heavy dutch oven about halfway with oil. Attach a candy or deep-frying thermometer and bring the oil to 350 degrees F. Once hot, fry the doughnuts in batches, for about 2 to 3 minutes on the first side. Flip over and continue to fry for another 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Drain and transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Continue frying the rest of the doughnuts in the same manner.
- Once all the doughnuts have been fried, give the jelly a good stir to loosen it up. Transfer to a disposable piping bag, fitting with a small metal circle tip. Fill each doughnut with about 1 teaspoon (or more depending on how big your doughnuts are) of jelly by poking a hole on the side of each with a sharp pairing knife and then piping the jelly into the doughnut. Return to the wire rack.
- To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, peanut butter, vanilla, salt and as much milk as needed to create a smooth thin pourable glaze. It should be thin enough to drizzle. If it's too thin add a bit more powdered sugar and stir. If it's too thick, add more milk.
- Dunk one side of each doughnut into the glaze and return to the pan. Allow the glaze to set before eating. Doughnuts are best eaten the day you make them, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic and kept for up to 2 days. Enjoy!