These light, baked chocolate cake donuts are deliciously moist thanks to a hazelnutty Nutella batter. The soft, creamy glaze is an espresso chocolate bourbon ganache made with heavy cream, butter, chocolate, vanilla extract, espresso powder and Bourbon.
Nutella does not only add its signature hazelnut flavor here, it also makes these donuts extra chocolatey as well as creamy and moist.
What are cake donuts?
Unlike yeast donuts, cake donuts are made from what is basically cake batter that is raised with baking powder and sometimes baking soda. (Yeast donuts, on the other hand, are made with a yeast dough and as a result have the yeast-typical fermented flavor.) Cake donuts have less chew than yeast donuts and are more crumbly, like an actual cake. Since cake batter is much faster and easier to make than yeast dough (no rise time is needed for the dough, etc.), cake donuts are super quick and easy to make and for the recipe here you don’t even need a mixer!
Can I make this recipe without Bourbon?
Absolutely. Because the Bourbon is only in the glaze, it’s very easy to turn this recipe into a non-alcoholic one. To make this a straight up baked chocolate donut recipe, simply do everything as instructed but leave out the Bourbon.
Can I store the donuts?
These donuts are definitely best served fresh on the day you make them but if you have any left over, you can cover them loosely with plastic wrap and let them sit on the kitchen counter for up to one day. (I don’t recommend refrigerating them because that will dry them out.)
How to make the donuts:
The preparation of the batter is very easy, you don’t need a mixer, you just whisk everything together by hand.
Step 1. Start by greasing two 6-well donut pans with vegetable shortening or non-stick spray. (The recipe makes 10-11 donuts.)
Step 2. Gather all your batter ingredients. (This recipe comes together quickly and you don’t want to have to go look for anything while you’re in the middle of it.)
Step 3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F., then whisk together your dry ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt.
RECIPE NOTE: Use a fairly large bowl for the dry ingredients. You want to give yourself enough room here for the rest of the ingredients that will go in.
Step 4. Add 1/4 cup Nutella to the dry ingredients.
RECIPE NOTE: The Nutella needs to be at room temperature. If you keep it in the fridge, warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds.
Step 5. Mash the Nutella into the dry ingredients using a fork. (The mix will be clumpy and that’s fine.)
Step 6. Grab a second bowl and add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/3 cup granulated sugar.
Step 7. Whisk the egg/sugar/vanilla mix together.
Step 8. Whisk in 1/2 cup milk.
Step 9. Whisk in 3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter. (The melted butter will likely solidify when it hits the cold milk and that’s no problem.)
Step 10. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and with that your batter is done! (It will still be quite clumpy and that’s fine.)
Step 11. Fill the batter into a piping bag and pipe it into the donut pan wells, filling each well about half full.
RECIPE NOTE: If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use two spoons instead. It’s more tedious to do it with spoons but it works.
Step 12. Bake the donuts for 12 to 15 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the donuts cool, then unmold them.
How to make the glaze:
Step 1. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1.5 T unsalted butter, 1/4 t instant espresso powder, 1/4 t vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Take the mix off the heat and add 1 T Bourbon.
Step 2. Pour the hot mix over 4 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and let it sit for a minute, then whisk together until smooth.
RECIPE NOTE: If you still end up with chocolate pieces in the glaze, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water to fully melt them.
Step 3. Spoon the glaze over the donuts and serve them with a glass of milk (or Bourbon)!
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Baked Chocolate Cake Donuts with Bourbon Glaze
For the donuts:
- non-stick spray or vegetable shortening for the donut pans
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup hazelnut spread (such as Nutella), at room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the glaze:
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon Bourbon
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped*
For the donuts:
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray two 6-well donut pans with nonstick spray or grease well with vegetable shortening and set aside.
- Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
- Mash the Nutella into the dry ingredients using a fork. (The mix will be clumpy.) Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg, vanilla and sugar together until well combined.
- Whisk milk, then melted butter into the egg mix. (The butter will likely solidify into tiny pieces when it hits the cold milk mix and that's fine.)
- Whisk the dry ingredients into the egg mix. (The batter will still be clumpy and that's fine.)
- Transfer the batter into a piping bag and pipe into the donut pans, filling the individual wells about half full.
- Bake the donuts for 12-15 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the donuts cool in the pans, then unmold them carefully.
For the glaze:
- Add cream, butter, espresso powder, vanilla and salt to a saucepan, bring to a boil and stir until combined.
- Take off the heat and stir in the Bourbon.
- Pour the hot mix over the chocolate and let sit for a minute.
- Whisk until everything is well combined and no chocolate clumps remain. (You may need to heat the mixture over a pot of simmering water to melt the last clumps of chocolate).
- Spoon the glaze over the donuts.