Vanilla Caramel Sufganiyot

You didn't think we would leave you with just one sufganiyah recipe this holiday season, now, did you? Of course not. We feel obligated to make up for all those sad, dried out donuts you might have had in your day school youth. Or  for the fact that you were never even blessed with fried Hannukah treats to begin with and perhaps thought that sufganiyah was a type of martial arts. So, here we are - day two of our Hannukah foodie fest, and believe you me, this recipe is not one to be missed. 

Vanilla Caramel Sufganiyot

Like Rina mentioned yesterday, sufganiyot have a bit of negative connotation around these parts. Most people think of the jelly blob filled dinner rolls, and sadly I was one of them. By now, you know how this goes. I was a non-believer; Rina made me a believer. But, I have to tell you, these donuts are on another level. Forget the fact that they are filled with a delectable custard and dusted with a generous spritz of granulated sugar, but these donuts are, hands-down, some of the best work we've done on the blog. Ever.

If you're looking for something different this holiday season, look no further. Sugar cookies and gingerbread houses are great, but why not opt for some sufganyot? Of course, make sure you listen to your favorite Christmas tunes (my personal favorite can be found at the top of this post), and really get in the holiday spirit. 

Vanilla Caramel Sufganiyot
Vanilla Caramel Sufganiyot

Whenever my family would get together for Hannukah, we'd always play dreidel. As cliche as that might seem, it was tradition. We'd pull out the big box of dreidels, accumulated from years of elementary school give-aways, holiday gift packages and Hannukah parties, each player would pick his or her favorite (I always loved the metallic ones) and we'd get spinning, playing for gelt (chocolate coins) or actual gelt (spare change). By some holiday magic, my grandma ALWAYS WON. For those of you unfamiliar with the game of dreidel, a dreidel has four sides, each side representing an action (take none, put in one, take half, take all). The game is pure luck, and yet, my grandma always won. All the chocolate. All the change. Never failed. She won so consistently that it became a running joke in my family. 

Now that I live apart from my family, I don't get to play dreidel with them, but I plan on carrying the tradition on with my new friends here in New York. Odds are they turn it into some bizarre drinking game, but still, tradition is tradition. 

xo, Alyssa

Vanilla Caramel Sufganiyot


Yield: about 14 sufganiyot

Active Cook Time: 30m | Rising Time: 1h 40m | Total Cook Time: 2h 10m

Category: Sweet, Donuts, Hannukah

Source: dough from Baker By Nature, vanilla caramel pastry cream from Food Network

Special Equipment: stand mixer or hand-mixer (optional), cooling rack, piping bag (or zippered plastic bag) and tip


4 ½ teaspoons/2 packets yeast

¼ cup warm water*

¾ cup full-fat milk or milk of choice**

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter

⅓ cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon salt

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil, for frying

vanilla caramel pastry cream:

¼ cup cornstarch

½ cup granulated sugar, divided

4 egg yolks

2 cups milk of choice, divided

2 Tablespoons water

1 plump vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out with a spoon OR ¼ teaspoon vanilla powder OR ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


*You want the water to be kind of at bath temperature - warm enough that you're cozy, but not too hot that it hurts. If you're more comfortable using thermometer, heat to 110-115 degrees. Over time, and with practice, a quick finger test will be all you need.

**We used soy milk and they turned out great!


Dissolve yeast: add the warm water to a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Heat milk and butter: in a small saucepan, add the butter and milk and heat on low until butter is completely melted. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Make the dough: add the milk-butter mixture to a large bowl and add in the sugar, egg and egg yolk, salt, yeast mixture and 3 cups flour. Combine using a whisk, wooden spoon or dough hook attachment in a stand mixer. Towards the end I just got in there with my hands. Stir until a soft mass has formed, but don't knead yet! Clean out the bowl you used or grab a new one, lightly grease, and place dough mass inside. Turn over once to ensure a nice oily coat on both sides, and cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Make the pastry cream: place the cornstarch and ¼ cup of sugar in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add egg yolks and and mix until a paste forms, then add in ½ cup milk of choice. Put the water and remaining ¼ cup of sugar in a small heavy pot or saucepan and stir to dissolve. Cook over medium heat, swirling but NOT stirring, until the liquid has turned a medium amber color. This will take a few minutes. Carefully pour in the remaining 1 ½ cup of milk and stir until smooth - there will be a lot of steam at first, and the caramel will harden. Don't worry! Stirring the mixture over the heat for a couple of minutes will liquify it. Bring to a simmer, then carefully and slowly pour into the sugar/egg mixture, whisking the entire time. Pour back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. This will happen pretty quickly! Remove from the heat and stir one more minute, then pour into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, ensuring that the wrap touches the pastry cream so that a skin doesn't form, and chill in the fridge for two hours and up to two days.

Form the sufganiyot: once an hour has passed and the dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 8 times, forming it into a ball as you go. Roll out the dough so that it's about ¼-inch thick, and using a biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut out the sufganiyot. You can re-roll the dough to make more sufganiyot, but be warned that they will have slightly more character and imperfections. They will still be amazing though. Place the sufganiyot on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes.

Fry the sufganiyot: have a cooling rack lined with paper towel at the ready, and a plate with granulated sugar. Working in pairs of two, place the sufganiyot into the oil - I carefully dropped mine in, but you could use a wide spatula to stick them in there if you prefer. These beauties fry FAST, so keep your eye on them - they may take as little as 30 seconds per side. When one side is golden brown, flip using a slotted spatula or tongs, and then place onto the paper-towel lined cooling rack to drain for a moment. After a few seconds, place in the sugar and roll around - this only works if the sufganiya is still warm and a little oily. Repeat with remaining sufganiyot. Allow to cool completely before filling.

Fill the sufganiyot: if using a zippered plastic bag, snip the corner off - if using a piping tip, make sure the hole is big enough for the tip to fit through (I know, I know, we're all adults here), but if not, keep the hole small so that a ton of filling doesn't come out at once. Also, if you're using this method, you'll most likely need to hollow out the sufganiya a bit with a chopstick or the handle of a teaspoon. Plastic bag or piping bag aside, insert the piping tip into the bag so that it pokes through, and place bag in an empty drinking glass - this makes it SO much easier to fill your bag. Using a spatula, fill the bag about ¾ of the way, leaving enough room to twist off. Twist the top of the bag so that filling doesn't come out of the top. Fill the sufganiyot by poking them in the middle and going through about halfway. Squeeze the bag, and slowly pull out as you squeeze. We gave them cute little frosting butts to cover up the hole, but it isn't necessary.

To serve: the second they are done they should be in your belly.

To keep: the pastry cream can be made up to 2 days in advance, and the completed sufaniyot will keep okay for a couple of days in a tightly sealed plastic container or zippered bag.