Monday, April 8, 2013

Quest: Vegan Doughnuts, Chocolate - Updated

Chocolate doughnut crumb improved with less fat.
As promised, I've taken some steps to cut the fat, slowly at first, since there are only two tablespoons of coconut oil in the recipe as it stands anyway, I thought cutting it in half seemed like the best place to start. So imagine my surprise when everyone proclaimed these the best doughnuts yet! That was rather exciting and good news for sure.

Each tablespoon of coconut oil has just over 13 grams of fat which works out to 2.3 grams per doughnut, but the bulk of the fat is coming from the pecans, where that 1/2 cup is responsible for 42.8 grams of fat in the entire recipe, or 7 grams of fat per doughnut. However, the fat in pecans is monounsaturated, which is considered one of the 'good fats' as documented here by the Mayo Clinic:
Monounsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.
The pecans add other great nutrients to the mix too so I'm considering adding more pecans to potentially cut the coconut oil completely. In looking at nut options, it appears that walnuts at 6.8 grams provide the same fat content, but almonds are considerably less at 4.5 per serving for the same 1/2 cup in the current recipe. Unlike the coconut oil where all the fat is saturated, which is considered the 'bad fat', utilizing nuts to meet the fat requirements seems like the best direction. The next experiments should be interesting.

Today's chocolate doughnut experiment was very eye-opening for another reason, which had nothing to do with ingredients; but was revealed through technique. I started out using the VitaMix to pulverize the nuts, something I had not yet tried, and then proceeded to add the wet ingredients as usual. What happened next was rather shocking: the VitaMix failed to blend all the dry into the wet and even with stopping it several times to scrape down the sides, I never could get completely under the blade to incorporate the two. The batter was much thicker than usual, and since I had planned out this side-by-side comparison by apportioning each set of ingredients equally, I'm certain I did not make a mistake in measurements.

Not only were the blended ingredients too thick and goopey to get out of that deep container, but when baked they were dense and dry, not at all the crumb you see in the picture above. The kids still ate them of course (they were chocolate after all!)  But I really was surprised to see the VitaMix perform so poorly, since I have great success with it on every other task I've put before it. However I am a bit relieved too since taking the VitaMix out of the tool set makes this recipe more accessible to the average person.

Vegan Chocolate Doughnuts, Updated 

2 teaspoons vinegar
1 cup milk of choice (I use soy)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease a non-stick doughnut pan with cooking spray. 
  2. Measure out the milk in a liquid measure and add vinegar to curdle the milk, then add vanilla.
  3. In the bowl of the food processor, combine all the dry ingredients with the pecans and blend until the nuts have been pulverized and the mixture is uniform. Add the coconut oil and pulse to blend evenly. 
  4. Slowly pour in the liquid to blend it into the dry ingredients and immediately spoon the mixture into the prepared doughnut pan. 
  5. Bake 13-14 minutes and remove the pan from the oven, carefully loosen the doughnuts and turn them over in the pan. The middles may have baked over the hole section of the pan, but carefully just press them back down into the pan. This crisps up the bottoms and gives them a better doughnut form.  Return them to the oven and bake another 5 minutes. The doughnuts should feel firm to the touch.
  6. Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan and then remove to a cooling rack. 
  7. Frost doughnuts while still warm (see below.)
Chocolate Frosting: This makes a very small amount of frosting, exactly enough for a thin coat on 6 doughnuts, if you want a thicker frosting double the recipe and double dip each doughnut for a second coating.

1 1/2 Tablespoons milk of choice
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Microwave frosting ingredients in a microwave safe bowl 20-30 seconds. Stir until smooth and lightly frost each doughnut while still a bit warm, simply dip them tops down (the tops to me are the part that started out as the top when they first went into the oven) into the glaze and allow them to dry on a cooling rack.

This recipe makes 6 doughnuts. 


  1. Yum! We have a vegan chocolate cake recipe that sounds similar (calls for baking soda and vinegar, which makes it rise, without eggs) must have a special doughnut pan?! Is it metal or silicon?

  2. Hi Martha, yes, I have the Norpro, but my friends have the Wilton which ships free from Amazon for $8.88. My pan is just a bit bigger than the Wilton I suspect, as I am hearing feedback that there might be a bit too much batter for that smaller pans.

  3. Oh,and yes,I make that same Lenten cake. :) The beauty of a doughnut is that it is small, so you don't have to rely on an egg for lift, however to get a good doughnut texture I have found that the nuts are essential - which provide great protein and make them far more satisfying for longer.