2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water, at 110 degrees
1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup evaporated milk, warmed to 110 degrees
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
3 to 4 cups vegetable shortening, for frying
1 1/2 cups salted caramel sauce
Caramel candy chews cut into small cubes or chunks
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, whisk together yeast, warm water and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar. Cover it with cling wrap and a towel. Let it rest 5 to 10 minutes in a warm spot until it becomes frothy.
Add in milk, remaining granulated sugar, salt, 1/4 cup butter, egg, egg yolk and vanilla.
Add half of the flour and set mixer with whisk attachment and blend until smooth. Switch mixer to hook attachment, slowly add remaining flour and knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 5 minutes, adding additional flour as needed.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch dough down and roll into an even layer onto a floured surface to slightly less than 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into doughnut shapes using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Drop a small amount of dough into the oil and if it bubbles and fizzes around the sides the oil is hot enough. Gently and carefully drop donuts into the oil. Don't add more than three donuts at a time. Cook them on one side until they're a light golden brown, then flip them over. Once they're golden on both sides, carefully take them out and transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels.
To finish off the donuts, poke a hole in the top of each donut and fill with salted caramel. Continue drizzling salted caramel over the top of the donuts and let a little drip down the sides. Finish off with a caramel chew candy on top and a sprinkle of sea salt chunks.
Donuts are best served the day they're made.
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