Earl Grey Donut Holes

IMG_2672This week brought about a MAJOR change in the Durand family. On Wednesday, we moved my sister into college, officially dubbing our household an empty nest. Granted, I’m still in town for the week, but as of September, my parents will be living in a childless home. Our beagle Lucy has no idea the spoiling that’s about to come her way.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to Katie going off to school. Part of me thought I’d undoubtedly cry just because tears are my instinctual response to any extreme emotion, and that day would be providing ALL kinds of emotions. Another part of me considered the fact that I’ve already lived away from her for two years, so this transition was really an inconsequential one for me. A final part figured I’d make it to the drive home before the tears would inevitably come.img_2623.jpg

Our family dragged ourselves into two cars early Wednesday morning full of Katie’s life packed up tight in the trunks. We were all a little drowsy, but the moment we arrived at the University of South Carolina’s campus, our sleepiness vanished; things suddenly became real. Swarms of young adults and parents lugging furniture and clothes filled the sidewalks and streets, and it started to sink in that this was going to be my sister’s new home for the coming years.IMG_2581

The four of us spent the next few hours unpacking, checking in, grimacing at the condition of the dorm room, deciding we’d make it beautiful regardless, meeting her roommate, panicking about the rules for hanging things on walls, making a Target trip for last minute items, getting very hangry with one another by the third hour, walking to get lunch, and going back to her building to make the finishing touches on the then gorgeous dorm. When the time came to say our goodbyes, I realized that there’d been no chance to even consider getting upset; we wanted Katie to have a nice room, and so we put all our energy into making that happen. That’s what our family does: when we find a goal, together we balance each other out just perfectly enough to knock it out. Of course we can butt heads in the process, but we always manage to dissolve our disagreements and work our Durand magic in the end. That dorm room looked GOOD.IMG_2603

As my parents and I turned to head down the South Tower elevator, we left with the comfort of knowing that Katie was elated. As we got in our cars, we knew she was probably happily chatting it up with her new roommate. Even as my mom and I made the necessary stop at the gas station to eat our feelings in M&Ms and slushies, we knew Katie was so ready for the exciting transition.

So I didn’t cry.

Would you like to know about a time I did? Enter earl grey donut holes. The first time I attempted these, I was in my Pittsburgh apartment. I’d taken ballet class that morning, but I had some time to kill before returning to the studio to run a 5:00 choreography rehearsal. Anxious to finally have a chance at working on this recipe idea, I dove into my kitchen and lost myself in donuts for some time…until 4:45 to be exact. Over the past few months, I’ve come to realize that I possess this magical ability to finish whatever I’m baking at LITERALLY the last minute possible. I can’t count the times that I’ve frantically grabbed things out of the oven and pulled work clothes on my sweaty, flour-dusted body five minutes before my shift starts. I somehow always manage to make it out the door, though.


That afternoon was no exception. I’d been rapidly fumbling on my phone between the stopwatch for frying, the camera because blogging and the bus schedule for my ride, until the last donuts were done. My eyes were beginning to sting–they get irritated with frying oil, and my tiny kitchen has less than ideal ventilation. I yanked the stove dial to the off position, grabbed my notebook and bus pass, and whizzed outside.

Outside. At quarter to 5. With a setting sun. And my stinging eyes.


I immediately became blind. Staggering like a nomad trekking through a windstorm and wiping tears like a teen on a disastrous prom night, I moved towards the general direction I thought the bus stop was. (I’d walked the route almost weekly, but I was questioning everything I thought I knew about buses and seeing and life at that point). Maybe if I was running, I would at least have looked like I was on an important mission of some sort, but of course I wasn’t allowed to run yet with my stress fracture. So, I awkwardly speed-walked and made it just as the bus pulled to the stop. The door opened with a puff of cold air, and I beamed thankfully at the driver, who would never know the gift he’d just given the mascara-stained crazy girl who boarded his bus.


Emotions are a fickle thing: often you just can’t predict the way you’ll handle something until, well, you’re handling it. Finding strength to hold back the tears is difficult, and sometimes letting yourself cry can be just as valuable. (and by crying I don’t mean involuntary hot oil tears 🙂 ) And whichever you find yourself doing, eating donuts is ALWAYS valuable.IMG_2703

These earl grey donuts have become one of the most popular items I’ve made, and for good reason. They’re perfectly browned on the outside with a soft, cakey interior. Add the sweet, floral glaze, and you’ve got a dessert fix for any occasion (but with a flavor that conveniently seems just a little too sophisticated to be called junk food). For a weekend breakfast treat; a classy side to tea; or a rom-com, ice-cream out of the tub night in, go for these beauties.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4


Earl Grey Donut Holes



  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 TBSP loose leaf earl grey tea (I love Lady Grey from @gryphonstea)
  • 1/2 cup vegan sugar
  • 1 flax egg (1 TBSP ground flax mixed with 3 TBSP water left to sit in fridge for at least 5 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (sift after measuring)


  • 1 cup vegan sugar***
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 TBSP loose leaf earl grey tea
  • 3-4 TBSP almond milk


  1. Combine milk and shortening in microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Microwave until milk is almost boiling, about 2 minutes (watch it carefully because time varies by microwave). Stir until shortening is completely melted.
  2. Add loose leaf tea, mix, and let steep for 10 minutes. Let mixture cool by leaving on counter or placing in freezer/fridge.
  3. In a Nutribullet/food processor, blend cooled mixture–with tea leaves still inside– until smooth (particles of leaves will be visible but very small).
  4. Combine sugar, flax egg, applesauce, and milk mixture in large bowl. Mix until combined.
  5. If you haven’t already done so, sift flour into a smaller bowl with the baking powder. Whisk in salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredient mixture a little at a time, mixing by hand with a spoon until incorporated.
  7. With well-floured hands, make balls of dough with about the diameter of a quarter, and set them on a plate.
  8. Fry the donuts at 360°F-375°F for 3-3 1/2 minutes, flipping halfway through. I used standard canola oil and did them in batches of 4-6 at a time.
  9. Upon removing, place donuts on a tray/baking sheet lined with paper towels and carefully pat them dry. Transfer to cooling racks if desired and let come to room temperature.
  10. To make glaze, place sugar, cornstarch, and tea in a Nutribullet/food processor. Pulse until a smooth, fine powder is formed.
  11. Stir in milk 1 TBSP at a time, stopping when desired consistency is reached.
  12. Dip donuts in glaze and then set back on cooling rack/tray. Allow a few minutes for the glaze to set. Store in airtight containers at room temperature.

***I prefer to use granulated sugar for the glaze, but vegan confectioner’s sugar may be used as well. If you choose to use it, just omit the cornstarch but still grind the tea to a powder.



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