Royal icing eyes of various sizes (homemade or store bought)
3-4 squares of chocolate
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients for the doughnuts (flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder).
In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (melted butter, egg, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree) until just combined. Whisk in dry ingredients.
Use vegetable shortening and a paper towel to grease your doughnut pan. Fill a piping bag with the doughnut batter and pipe it into the doughnut pan until each cavity is about 2/3 full.
Bake the doughnuts at 350F for 8-10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the doughnuts comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan for 1-2 minutes before turning them out onto a baking rack.
In a small saucepan, combine the powdered sugar, water and vanilla extract for the glaze.
Cook over low-medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the glaze is warm and starts to form a crust on top. Remove from heat.
Dip each doughnut into the glaze, gently shaking it to allow any excess glaze to drip off. Immediately dip your doughnut into the sanding sugar (it will crust quickly).
Be sure to stir the glaze between each doughnut so it doesn’t form a crust.
Melt 3-4 squares of chocolate (any kind of chocolate will work), and spoon it into a piping bag, or into the corner of a ziploc bag.
Pipe a little chocolate onto the back of your royal icing eyes, and gently press them onto the tops of the doughnuts.
Allow the chocolate to harden completely before packaging the doughnuts.
Use a piping bag to pipe your doughnut batter into your doughnut pan. This is a lot easier and less messy than trying to pour from the bowl.
Doughnuts are easiest to remove from the pan while they’re still warm. The sweet spot seems to be about 2 minutes after they come out of the oven. Simply turn the pan over and gently shake it until the doughnuts come out (hot-pads are a good idea).
Did you know you can make your own sanding sugar? If you can't buy black sanding sugar at the store, here's how to make it.
Be sure not to over-cook the glaze. Over-cooked glaze loses too much liquid and becomes too hard and thick to work with. The best way to make sure your glaze doesn’t get over-cooked is to cook it over low heat and remove it immediately once a crust starts to form. If your glaze becomes over-cooked, simply add more water in 1/2 tsp increments until the glaze breaks up enough to use.
Why we cook the glaze: You may be wondering why we’re cooking the glaze. After all, there are lots of doughnut recipes on the web that don’t require this step. Here’s why: cooking the glaze causes a chemical reaction that results in a glaze that hardens quickly and becomes a shell (rather than a soft glaze). It’s perfect for locking in moisture and making life easier if you need to pack these doughnuts.
Leftovers: Baked doughnuts don’t keep well and tend to dry out faster than the fried variety. If you end up with leftovers, the best way to store them is in a paper bag. Whatever you do, don’t refrigerate them or put them in plastic.
Reviving stale doughnuts: If you wound up with leftovers and they’ve gotten stale, no worries! You can soften them back up by microwaving them in 5-10 second increments until soft. Just watch out for melting icing.