The Artist loves donuts, but they don’t love him. He usually winds up with a heck of a stomachache from the greasiness in regular fried donuts. He splurges occasionally but always pays for it. I have wanted to find a new way of making donuts that we both can enjoy without any repercussions.
One way around his physical reaction is to bake the donuts instead of frying them. They taste more like mini cakes than traditional yeast-risen donuts but boy are they good!! Instead of making a yeast dough, rolling it out and cutting it into donut-shaped pieces, you make a thick batter and pipe it into a baking form.
I have been looking at donut pans for years but a few weeks ago I finally broke down and bought one. It is from Norpro and I love it! Make sure you get a nonstick pan so that the donuts will pop right out. You won’t need as much oil in each indentation, saving you some calories from fat. I also love the petite size of these. They are just right for a bite of sweetness after a big, heavy meal. And because they are so small, everyone can have several without having to choose between their favorite toppings.
Another tool I used to make these really easy is a disposable piping bag. Made of plastic, they are sturdy enough to handle stiff doughs, yet flexible enough to pipe easily. I made one mistake, I cut too large an opening at the tip of the bag, making the amount of dough I piped into the baking pan a bit thicker than it should have been. Instead of filling each opening 2/3 full, they were completely filled with batter. But they still turned out perfectly! If I had a slightly thinner batter and filled them as directed, I probably would have gotten twice as many donuts as I did, but I’m not complaining. With only two of us to eat them, this recipe made just the right amount.
If you are doing more delicate or intricate decorating of cookies and such for Christmas and the holidays, a variety of stainless steel tips will be most helpful. A small round tip allows you to write messages on birthday cakes. I love using a star tip when filling deviled eggs because they make something so commonplace incredibly beautiful. A piping bag is traditionally used to form profiteroles or eclairs out of choux pastry, meringues with sweetened egg whites. If you are making jelly doughnuts, you can insert a round piping tip into the baked pastry and inject the filling.
When your donuts are hot out of the oven, baked and puffed, transfer them from the donut pan onto a wire rack for cooling. If you are using a nonstick pan, you can flip the pan over and the donuts will fall right out. If they stick at all, nudge them loose with a spoon or fork.
When I was thinking of garnishes for the donuts, I decided to go with all white for an elegant look that would be perfect for holiday parties or certainly for a New Year’s Eve Party! I used coconut, sliced almonds, powdered sugar, and white candy pearls. If you are making these for children, colorful sprinkles, candy confetti, and jimmies would be perfect.
For the gluten-free version I used my go-to homemade flour blend designed by Silvana Nardone, the author of Cooking for Isaiah, one of my favorite cookbooks! I make a big batch at a time and store it in a large plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid. Just make sure to whisk and/or shake the blend well each time you use it!
These donuts would be fun to change up too. I could easily see adding a touch of cinnamon to turn them into Mexican Chocolate donuts, using a touch of bourbon or rum in the glaze for an adult version, or swapping out the dark chocolate for white chocolate in the glaze. The sky is the limit – go out and get creative!
Happy Chocolate Monday! Have a wonderful week!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
I made this completely by hand with a whisk, but if you are short on time, you can certainly whip this up in a stand mixer.
Use your favorite gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour. If your mix does not include xanthan gum add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Always read the labels on all your ingredients and keep an eye out for hidden sources of gluten!
Kitchen Skill: Filling a Piping Bag
Piping bags are a wonderful way to make quick work of repetitive tasks, portioning of dough and batter, or making foods look extra festive and decorative. The easiest way to fill a piping bag is to set it, tip down in a tall, heavy drinking glass. Using a bottom-heavy glass will help keep it from tipping over. Fold the top of the bag down over the lip of the glass creating a deep cuff. Spoon, pour or scoop the batter into the bag, until about 2/3 full. Fold or roll the cuff over the batter and then cut the tip off the bag. Squeeze the bag from the top and use your opposite hand to guide the bag’s tip.
Mini Baked Chocolate Cake Donuts
Adapted from Norpro
Yield: approximately 18 to 24 mini donuts
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend (see gluten-free tab at top of the page for GF flour blends or buy Cooking for Isaiah)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (either natural or Dutch-processed are fine)
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp water
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp softened butter or partially melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 tbsp milk
Flaked coconut, chopped nuts, colorful sprinkles, shaved chocolate, cinnamon-sugar mixture, or a dusting of powdered sugar
In a small bowl stir together the milk and melted butter. Reheat as needed to keep the butter liquefied. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend thoroughly. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, water, sugar, and vanilla until thick and creamy. Add the dry ingredients and the milk/butter mixture to the sugar/egg mixture. Whisk until smooth.
Spoon mixture into prepared pans or use a piping bag until each is 2/3 full. Bake for about 8 minutes or until puffed, the tops spring back when lightly touched with your finger, and a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean.
If the pan is completely filled, you can flip the donuts out onto the wire rack. Cool completely before glazing. If you only have a portion of the tins filled, you will want to let them cool slightly in the pan and then use a spoon or fork to nudge them onto the wire rack for cooling.
Wipe pan clean with a paper towel, re-spray with vegetable oil and repeat with the remaining batter.
Chocolate Glaze: In a small shallow bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, butter, vanilla, and 1 tbsp of the milk until smooth. Add more milk if needed to make a good dipping consistency.
If you are using garnishes, place some of each in individual shallow bowls for dipping.
When donuts are cool enough to handle hold on at the edges and quickly dip the top in the glaze. Lift straight up and quickly flip it over and set back on the cooling rack. Let sit for no more than a minute if you are using garnishes. Carefully dip them in your choice of garnish and turn them back over, setting them on the rack to finish setting. Repeat with remaining donuts and set aside to allow glaze to firm up before serving.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days – if they last that long!
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