Pumpkin Donut Holes with Sunbutter Caramel

With September almost over, I’m happy to say I’m in full-on pumpkin eating mode! Winter squashes are one of my absolute favorite foods. I just can’t get enough of their sweet flavor, creamy texture, and megawatt nutrition. Loaded with vitamin A and dozens of other antioxidants, winter squash is also low in calories and sugar, making it a sensible low-glycemic choice.

After seeing Kelly’s donut recipe a while back, I knew that one of my first pumpkin treats of the season just had to be a pumpkin donut. So I set out to make some grain-free donut holes with Kelly’s recipe as my inspiration.

I’ve never understood why donuts are considered a breakfast food when they’re typically such a goldmine of refined sugar and flour.  Take a look at this nutrition label from a box of popular store-bought donuts:


With a whopping 24 grams of refined sugar in just one donut and only 3 grams of protein, all I see is a monster of a blood sugar crash waiting to happen!

Now take a look at this label:

Can you guess what it’s from? A candy bar. Yep. This candy bar has less sugar and more protein than the donuts.

I’m not encouraging you to eat a candy bar instead of a donut for breakfast. (I wish!) Instead, I think it’s mind-blowing to see how foods marketed to us as breakfast items are truly no healthier than other foods sold as desserts.

To think that children are growing up on nutritionally empty desserts for breakfast is truly heartbreaking. But let’s not get too down in the dumps, because there’s a solution: homemade donut holes!

These pumpkin donut holes complete with a sunflower caramel glaze taste remarkably similar in texture to store-bought donuts even if they’re not quite as sweet. They’re moist and chewy without being too doughy. The glaze gives them that extra special touch that really drives home the indulgence factor without packing too sugary of a punch.

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • When you are making the donut holes, make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature so that the coconut oil does not harden.
  • To sift the coconut flour over the liquid ingredients, I use a fine mesh strainer. Just put the flour into the strainer and give it a tap against your hand to finely sift it. (Discard any clumps left behind in the strainer.)
  • The psyllium husk lends that perfect doughy texture to the donuts, so you can’t substitute it with ground flax or chia. (You can find whole psyllium husks at natural foods stores, co-ops, and pharmacies.)
  • Try other nut butters in place of the sunflower butter if you’d like. I have a sneaking suspicion that cashew butter would be amazing.

Pumpkin Donut Holes with Sunbutter Caramel

Serves about 15

For the donut holes:

  • 1 medium ripe banana, broken into chunks
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup canned coconut milk (full fat)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole psyllium husks
  • ½ cup (58 grams) coconut flour

For the caramel sauce:

  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter (unsweetened), such as Sunbutter Organic or Once Again

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Make the donut holes: Place the banana, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, water, coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and psyllium husks in a blender in the order listed. Blend on high until creamy and smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
3. Sift the coconut flour over the top of the liquid ingredients. Beat on medium speed with electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Set the batter aside to rest for 5 minutes.
4. After resting, the dough should be soft but easy to handle. If it still feels wet, let it sit a few minutes more in the refrigerator.
5. Roll heaping tablespoons of the dough into balls and place them on the lined baking sheet.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until deeply golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Cool for at least 30 minutes.
8. Make the caramel sauce: Place the honey in a small pot over low heat.
9. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the honey starts to bubble gently.
10. Immediately whisk in the sunflower seed butter until smooth. Allow the mixture to bubble, whisking constantly, for 15-30 seconds.
11. Remove from heat.
12. Drizzle the caramel over the donut holes with a spoon. (Use the caramel within a minute or two of removing it from the heat or else it will start to harden in the pot.)
13. Refrigerate the donut holes for about 10 minutes to set the caramel.
14. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Hallie Klecker is the author of Super Healthy Cookies and  The Pure Kitchen, both gluten- and dairy-free cookbooks focusing on fresh ingredients and whole foods. She writes the recipe blog Daily Bites, where she shares her passion for cooking with whole, natural foods. Hallie is a certified Nutrition Educator and former personal chef. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest!

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