Chocolate Bourbon Donuts

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Happy New Year Everyone! I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2016. To start the year properly I made chocolate Bourbon donuts; you could think of them as the dark counterpart to last week’s cardamom cinnamon donuts. These guys here are again baked and they are cakey but still very light. My favorite part about them is the glaze, which is a chocolate Bourbon ganache of sorts that I made with heavy cream, butter, chocolate, vanilla extract, espresso powder and, of course, Bourbon. It’s not one of those hard chocolate shells you sometimes see, instead it’s soft and creamy; I personally like that better in combination with cakey things. I suggest you eat (or serve) these donuts as an afternoon snack with a glass of milk (or Bourbon)!

Chocolate Bourbon Donuts
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 9 – 10
For the donuts:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the glaze:
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (more, if needed)
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon Bourbon
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
For the donuts:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray two 6-cavity donut pans with nonstick spray and set aside. (This recipe will make 8 to 9 donuts).
  3. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Whisk egg, vanilla, espresso powder and sugar together in a bowl until well combined.
  5. Whisk milk and melted butter into the egg mix.
  6. Whisk the dry ingredients into the egg mix.
  7. Using a spoon, divide the batter into the donut pans, filling each cavity ½ to ¾ full and bake for 12 – 15 minutes.
For the glaze:
  1. Add ¼ cup of cream, butter, espresso powder, vanilla and salt into a sauce pan, bring to a boil and stir until you have a homogeneous mix.
  2. Take off the heat and add the Bourbon.
  3. Pour the hot cream mix over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.
  4. Stir together until everything is well combined and no chocolate clumps remain. (You may need to heat the mixture over a pot of hot water to get rid of the last pieces of chocolate). If the glaze is too thick to flow easily, stir in more cream, one tablespoon at a time.
  5. Liberally spoon the glaze over the donuts.

Food Photography and Styling: I wanted to be sure to tell the viewer that these donuts have Bourbon in them and I tried several different ways to do that. First I set a glass filled with Bourbon in the background but that ended up looking a bit dingy and I didn’t think it got the idea across. Next I thought of a whiskey bottle but I didn’t have one that would have fit with the size of the donuts, everything I had was much too large. In the end I opted for writing the recipe name on the photo and left space in the background to do that.

The backdrop is actually the seat of a chair (the same one I used as the surface in this photo). The surface that the plate is sitting on is a tray that I turned upside down and I thought it looked like a nice table. As I’m sure you guessed, I used my strobe to light the set.
For info on what type of camera and lighting equipment I used head on over to my FAQ page.


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  1. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says:

    The donuts look delicious. Well, I have been known to purchase a little sample bottle for a recipe — perhaps that in the background would have worked but then again, it would make the donuts look monstrous — but that wouldn’t be bad at all. I like the dark look. I could dress all in black, sneak in there, gently reach up over the table — I’m wearing black gloves and sneak one off the plate. Would you miss it? I would leave a few crumbs :-) Happy New Year!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Haha, that’s what I love about the dark photos, they can be so mysterious. :) The sample bottles tend to be too small indeed although maybe I just haven’t looked thoroughly enough for just the right size, I’ll pay closer attention next time I’m in a liquor store. Happy New Year to you too, Marisa! :)

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you so much, Jen! I agree, chocolate and Bourbon are the best, as a matter of fact I don’t really like Bourbon without chocolate! :)

  2. Claudia | The Brick Kitchen says:

    Chocolate espresso (and bourbon!) are such a perfect match, I can hardly imagine how decadent and rich these donuts must be – very envious of your house right now! Gorgeous photos and styling too, as usual – I love reading your thought process of how you get the shot. Happy new year!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you so much, Angela! For some reason I really love to photograph brown, the more brown there is in the set the more I like it. :)

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