Baked Chocolate Donuts with Chocolate Ganache and Sprinkles
It’s been years since I’ve made donuts and I don’t know why.
But I’m so glad I dusted off my donut pan and am officially in love with donuts again.
I went through a kick in 2011 when I first got donut pans and so many varieties. The highlights were a baked version of a vanilla Krispy Kreme, a donut that tastes like cinnamon buns, and chocolate-peanut butter donuts with a peanut butter glaze and they were so good I included the recipe in my cookbook.
But time marches on and I realized that I really wanted a solid recipe for a baked chocolate buttermilk donut with a rich, fugdy, chocolate ganache. So I got to work developing the recipe and came up with these.
It’s an easy, no-mixer batter that comes together in minutes by hand, just like making muffins. A bowl of dry ingredient, a bowl of wet, pour wet over dry, fold together, and bake.
If you don’t have a donut pan, go buy one. They’re 7 bucks. I’m sure you can make the recipe as muffins, although I haven’t tested it. However, I made 6 donuts and 4 large donut holes from the batter, which are almost like muffins, and they worked just fine.
The donuts are soft and fluffy without being airy, dry, or overly cakey. I used both buttermilk and oil to ensure they stay moist, springy, and soft.
If you don’t routinely keep buttermilk on hand, I highly recommend this Powdered Buttermilk. If you don’t use buttermilk much, but sometimes see a recipe that needs a half cup, but think you won’t use the rest of the jug before it goes bad, so you opt of trying the recipe, then the powder is for you. Shelf stable, keeps for ages.
Or make buttermilk by souring your own milk. Add about 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk, wait 10 minutes for it to curdle, then use as indicated.
The donuts aren’t overly sweet, just 1/4 cup each of brown and granulated sugar for the whole batch. Additional sweetness comes via the ganache and sprinkles and I made sure the donuts weren’t sugar bombs to begin with.
I wanted them chocolaty in a nostalgic bakery way, and not overpowering or too dark. Years ago bakeries didn’t typically make things super bold like you find today with triple espresso brownies with dark chocolate ganache and bittersweet chocolate shavings lining modern bakery cases.
I included one teaspoon of instant espresso granules to bring out the chocolate flavor, and it doesn’t make them taste like coffee, but omit if you’re concerned.
Getting the batter into the pan can be tricky and I find the easiest method is to just dollop it on like I’m making muffins, including covering up the center. After there’s batter in all 6 cavities, I go around with my finger, wipe off the center, and guide it into the cavities using the back of a spoon. Then I wipe the centers and edges with a paper towel to ensure there’s no mess. If you find it easier to put the batter into a piping bag or Ziplock with the corner cut off and pipe it in, do so. However, I find this wastes lots of batter and is more time-consuming.
Don’t fill your pan more than two-thirds to three-quarters full or the centers can baked closed, which isn’t a big deal. Trim them with a knife in order to get a cute, clear, open center if yours bake shut.
Dipping them in chocolate and sprinkles was my favorite part. You could also use nuts, shredded coconut, or another favorite garnish.
The ganache is fudgy, smooth, and the perfect complement to the donuts. It sets up overtime and is firm without being crunchy.
They’re just what I had been waiting for. Since 2011.
Hopefully it won’t be that long until my next donut recipe.
Baked Chocolate Donuts with Chocolate Ganache and Sprinkles
The donuts are soft and fluffy without being airy, dry, or overly cakey. I used both buttermilk and oil to ensure they stay moist and springy. They and aren’t overly chocolaty or too bold, nor are they overly sweet. They remind me of classic bakery chocolate cake donuts. I made 6 donuts and 4 large donut holes. Without the donut holes you’ll likely yield 8 donuts. Don’t overbake because just 1 to 2 extra minutes can make them very dry. Baking times will vary based on how full your pans are filled and how many pans in the oven at once. The ganache is fudgy, smooth, and the perfect complement.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
heaping 1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee granules, optional but recommended
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/4 cup half-and-half or cream
sprinkles, for garnishing
- Donuts – Preheat oven to 350F. Spray donut pan(s) very well with cooking spray; set aside. I used this donut pan and this donut hole pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, add first 8 ingredients (through optional salt) and whisk well to incorporate. Make sure there are no large lumps of cocoa powder.
- In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, add remaining 4 ingredients (through vanilla) and whisk to incorporate.
- Pour wet mixture over dry, folding to incorporate; don’t overmix. Batter is extremely thick but comes together with patience. If yours is absolutely not coming together, add a splash of buttermilk until it combines.
- Spoon batter into donut pan, making sure that cavities are not filled more than 3/4-full or the donuts will bake with the center closed together. I find the easiest method to get the batter into the donut pan is to just dollop it on like I’m making muffins, including covering up the center. After there’s batter in all 6 cavities, I go around with my finger, wipe off the center, and guide it into the cavities. Smoothing it with the back of a spoon can help guide it into place. Before baking, I wipe the centers and edges with a paper towel to ensure there’s no mess. If you find it easier to put the batter into a piping bag or Ziplock with the corner cut off and pipe it in, do so; however, I find this wastes lots of batter and is more time-consuming.
- Bake donuts until they’re done, about 11 to 13 minutes, depending on how full the cavities were filled and how many pans are in the oven at once. When done, donuts should be set, domed, springy to the touch, and bounce back when touched, like a muffin. They should test clean with a toothpick, or with a few fudgy moist crumbs but no batter. Don’t overbake; it’s easy to do with chocolate (dark) items but just 1-2 minutes extra will make them overly dry.
- Allow donuts to cool in pan for about 15 minutes before removing. While the donuts cool, make the ganache.
- Chocolate Ganache – Place chocolate chips in a shallow, medium, microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute on high power to melt. Chips will be soft and starting to lose their shape, but won’t likely have melted, that’s okay; set aside.
- In a small microwave bowl or measuring cup, add the cream and heat until it just begins to bubble but isn’t boiling, about 20 seconds on high power.
- Pour the cream over the chocolate chips, let stand 1 minute, and whisk to combine. Mixture may resist combining and smoothing out, but keep whisking, and it will come together. If struggling, heat for 15-seconds and whisk again.
- After chocolate mixture is smooth, dip the donuts into it, one-by-one. I like a thick chocolate layer and really smoosh the donut into the chocolate, then carefully lift out so as not to tear it.
- After dipping each, garnish generously with sprinkles. Repeat for all donuts/donut holes. Donuts are best warm and fresh, but will keep airtight at room temp for up to 3 days.
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