Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes Are This Pastry Chef’s Secret Weapon

I make sweets and treats for a living, and yet have somehow managed to raise two boys who much prefer store-bought goodies to homemade. Despite the fact that there is often a freshly baked pie on my kitchen counter and a cream-filled one in the fridge; that the cookie jar is always full of butterscotch potato chip balls (from my new book, The Vintage Baker) or thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies, my children will always choose the Paul Newman’s Mint Oreo or the bowl of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia over anything I make from scratch.

Except, however, when I make my Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes—my homemade version of “munchkins.” These puppies are game changers, at least for my younger son.

Jack, my 13-year-old, thinks Dunkin’ Donuts are “too sweet.” Truthfully, this is his frequent refrain when it comes to dessert (which honestly makes me question if he is truly mine). When we stop by the franchise near our house (yes, full disclosure: I, too, dig a store-bought treat now and again) he gets a plain bagel and cream cheese.

My 15-year-old, Oliver, and I, on the other hand, stuff our faces with the pink strawberry frosting and the ”Boston cream pie,” and grab a to-go cup of munchkins, to boot. Everything in moderation, right?

But Jack just isn’t on board. To him, the ideal donut is baked by me in a mini muffin pan. It is sweet, but not too sweet,  and a little spicy from some nutmeg in the dough and the cinnamon in the coating. The fact that you roll the baked donuts/muffins in melted butter before generously sprinkling them with cinnamon-sugar doesn’t hurt either.

And because the donut holes are baked in the oven, there’s no hot oil for parents to fuss with, which also makes them an easy (and safe) project to do with kids.  Jack is certainly on board with baked donut hole prep, and Oliver even gets involved on occasion. Yes, I yearn for the day when they ask for a slice of my blackberry-lime pie,  but for now I’ll take the exuberant response to my “munchkins,” and consider this a full-on mom-win.

Jessie Sheehan is a cookbook author, food writer, recipe developer, and baker. She is the author of The Vintage Baker and the co-author of Icebox Cakes (both published by Chronicle Books). She has developed recipes for many cookbooks, besides her own, and has contributed recipes/and or written for Epicurious, Food52, Fine Cooking, TASTE, and Main Street Magazine, among others. 

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