Say hello to your favorite Fall-inspired breakfast - these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Donuts are moist, tender, and bursting with spiced pumpkin flavor and rich dark chocolate. There’s just no way donuts this simple and delicious can or should be resisted! Topped with a lightened-up whipped cream cheese-Greek yogurt frosting, these donuts just might become a regular breakfast/snack in my house.
It’s a Wednesday night, around 6 PM, and I just finished class for the day. Now, I rush home to make a quick dinner and then head back out the door to go into work for about an hour and prep ingredients for tomorrow morning, just to make my life at 4:30 AM a little easier. Oh, I’m a baker at a local café if you’re wondering where in the world I’m going with this.
Into three separate bins go the dry ingredients for gluten-free scones, regular scones (which I love to make with whole-wheat flour), and vegan banana bread. Then, check for cookies. We’ve almost always got at least one pan of cooke dough made in the fridge, but sometimes you never know. And then I made sure the cooks are stocked up with waffle batter - always two tubs ready during the week and three during the weekends. This, by the way, is kind of a hassle to make because it requires a mixing bowl as big as my entire stove-top, a dozen eggs, three sticks of butter and a heck of a lot of buttermilk, and an arm or two strong enough to endure the mixing of all those thick wet ingredients with about 10 total cups of flour, oat bran, cornmeal, etc. Exhausting.
Okay, so - dry ingredients: check. Cookies: check. Waffle batter: check. Next on the list is granola. We make two types of granola at the café and for some reason, one is much more popular than the other and runs out way quicker, so 90% of the batches I make are that extra popular granola. And that one can also be kind of a pain because it requires an even bigger mixing bowl, gloves for the hands because I have to use them instead of a wooden spoon to keep all the ingredients under control inside the bowl while mixing, and an hour for baking with three rounds of stirring throughout. I digress. Granola: check.
And now for my favorite part! Our fifth item in the baking case is anything I want it to be - brownies, coffee cake, donuts, muffins. Can you guess which one I almost always make? Muffins. It’s always the muffins. If you could just see them, you might understand why. Tall with a delicate crumble on top, and when broken open, fluffy and tender and studded with either chocolate chips, berries, maybe even a few nuts, or just left to be its simple, beautiful muffin batter.
Most of the recipes we use, I’ve committed to memory (which, might I add, took me a about two days, and… um, how long did it take me to memorize all those equations we use in clinical nutrition? hahaha). I can whip this muffin batter up in almost a matter of seconds, given the stand mixer wants to be my friend and actually work well - he doesn’t always cooperate immediately, but with a little sweet-talkin’, he comes around.
Several cans of pumpkin purée in the pantry just scream at me to crack them open and fold them into a bread or muffin batter this time of year and I cannot ignore them. I mean, I don’t really try to ignore them, but that’s besides the point. This is where things get tricky, though, when pumpkin is thrown into the mix. It’s considered a wet ingredients, but does it replace some of the fat? Or the liquid? Or can it just be mixed in without altering any other ingredients? Those are always my questions.
Our muffin recipe uses sour cream and here’s why (because I know you’re like “WHAT why that’s weird”): sour cream is acidic and fatty, so it activates the baking soda to create the carbon dioxide that lifts the muffins in the oven, giving the tall, yet tender and moist structure. Pumpkin is not as acidic and definitely not fatty, but I have no other choice here in my list of wet ingredients, so I swap half the sour cream for pumpkin purée and then, I suddenly consider the possibility of Greek yogurt replacing the other half of sour cream. It’s acidic and fatty, too, but it’s also higher in protein which can interfere with the carbon dioxide and therefore render the muffins shorter and more dense.
But, somehow, I have faith in these muffins and I believe in their ability to rise even with Greek yogurt. And maybe that little bit of faith was the last unwritten ingredient in this recipe I just created in my brain because THEY WORKED. They were just gorgeous - still as tall as the original recipe, tender, and moist. So, I modified it even further to fit nicely on the Breakfast section of the blog as a donut recipe (because I just made muffins and we all like a little variety) and, my friends, here you have it - a bakery-esque pumpkin donut studded with dark chocolate chips and topped off with a subtly sweet, tangy cream cheese-Greek yogurt frosting.
I hope you enjoy hearing about my experiments because not only do I thoroughly conducting them, but also writing about them to give you an “inside look” at how these recipes come about!
Looking for a recipe to use up the rest of that pumpkin purée? Click here to make these Pumpkin Cashew Dark Chocolate Truffles (paleo and vegan)!
Makes 10 donuts
For the donuts:
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup agave or maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil, plus more for the pan, if needed
2 flax eggs
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
For the frosting: (use vegan alternatives if needed)
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup 2% Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. maple syrup or honey
Preheat the oven to 350F and, if using a steel nonstick pan, coat donut cavities with just a small amount of coconut oil. If using a nonstick silicone donut mold (which I highly recommend), there is no need for oil.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients - everything from the pumpkin purée to the baking soda. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl (perhaps one for a stand-mixer), stir together the dry ingredients - everything from the pumpkin pie spice to the chocolate chips. Slowly pour in the wet ingredients and continue mixing until just combined.
Use two spoons to scoop batter into the donut cavities, filling each one about 2/3-3/4 full. Do not fill them to the top because the batter will rise and spill over in the oven, creating a weird-looking donut.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick poked through the middle of the donuts comes out clean. Let them cool completely before removing from the pan.
Combine the ingredients for the frosting and use a stand-mixer or hand-mixer to whip the cream cheese, yogurt, and sweetener until smooth and fluffy. When the donuts have cooled, spread about 2 tablespoons of frosting on each. You will have leftover frosting, so simply transfer this to a small mason jar with a lid, refrigerate, and repurpose this on toast, bagels, other baked goods, or just a spoon because it’s definitely that good.
Serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.