As far as healthy dessert recipes go, this is an overall winner! I make these glazed donut holes are made with healthy ingredients, but the taste is very similar to old fashioned donut holes. They are a fun choice when you want something decadent (and want it to be nutritious too!). They’re perfect for a special birthday breakfast (served with healthy protein) or a dessert that’s easy to pack in a picnic.
History of Donut Holes
It’s not clear exactly how donut holes came to be, but one interesting story starts with a mother and son team. In the mid 19th century Elizabeth Gregory, mother of New England Ship Captain Hanson Gregory, created the doughnut when she fried dough with nuts in the center where the dough might not cook through. She rolled them in nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon rind.
But Captain Gregory takes credit for the doughnut’s shape, and more importantly, the donut hole. He used the top of a round tin pepper box to cut a hole in the doughnut, and the donut hole was born.
Today, doughnuts are shaped by machines (and donut holes are no longer cut from the center). But the popularity of donut holes hasn’t waivered and they are now made separately.
Today, we can make doughnuts and donut holes in a variety of ways from many different ingredients to make them more in line with healthier eating habits.
Are Donuts Healthy?
Donuts can be healthy. Eating a lot of sugar (natural or not) isn’t a healthy habit, but having an occasional treat made with healthy ingredients is perfectly okay. These donut holes have some sugar (from the chocolate chips and glaze) but not nearly as much as other donuts. To reduce the sugar even more, skip the glaze. They contain a lot of healthy ingredients too.
- Almond flour – made from ground up almonds, almond flour is a good source of protein and healthy fat. It’s also a great flour for low carb baking.
- Chocolate – while it does contain sugar, chocolate is still a healthy food (in small amounts) because it’s packed with antioxidants. You can always make your own chocolate to use.
- Coconut milk and oil – coconut is a great source of healthy fats. Coconut oil provides medium chain fatty acids that help build a healthy immune system and fight infections.
As far as donuts go, these are as healthy as they come!
Baking and Glazing the Donut Holes
You have a few options for cooking these donut holes: you can either use a cake pop maker or a donut hole pan. You could also use a mini muffin tin, your donut holes just won’t be round. They’ll still be just as tasty though! They cook quickly, so keep an eye on them.
I’ve included a recipe for a coconut glaze sweetened with honey. Feel free to add different extracts for different flavors! Sometimes we like to add a little cocoa powder for a chocolate glaze, or sprinkle the glazed donut holes with shredded coconut.
Tips for Great Almond Flour Donuts
It’s amazing how many baked goods and other recipes can be made with alternative flours including almond flour. But at the same time, there is a learning curve when you begin baking with new flours and ingredients. Here are some tips for tasty donut holes using healthy ingredients:
- If your donuts don’t come out right, check your almond flour. Finely ground, blanched almond flour is the best kind to use for tricky baked goods.
- Because the recipe for these donut holes makes a batter (instead of dough) you may have to grease the pan really well so the donut holes will come out easily.
- Let the donut holes cool in the pan. They will peel away from the sides of the pan and be much easier to get out (without crumbling!).
Because baking with alternative flours can be tricky, it may take you a bit of time to figure out how your oven, pans, and recipes work together. Don’t be discouraged though! Most of the time these recipes come out just fine without too much fuss.
Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes Recipe
To make the donut holes:
- Preheat your cake pop maker or oven to 350°F.
- In a medium sauce pan, heat the chocolate chips and coconut milk over low heat just until melted, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- Place the eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk on high until they are light and foamy.
- Fold in the melted chocolate mixture.
- Add the almond flour, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla, and salt and mix well
- Spoon the batter into the cavities of the cake pop maker or donut hole pan, filling to just above the rim.
- Bake in the cake pop maker or preheated oven for 5 minutes before flipping and cooking for 2 more minutes.
- Place the cooked donut holes on a plate and place in the freezer for 45 minutes.
- Combine the coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, just until melted.
- Whisk in the vanilla extract, coconut milk, and cocoa powder if using.
- Pour the glaze into a glass 1 cup measure and dunk each donut hole, placing back on the plate to set.
- Dunk a second time if desired for a thicker coating of glaze.
- If you'd like coconut covered donut holes, sprinkle them with toasted shredded coconut while the glaze is still wet.
- This recipe makes a thick batter that is then baked in either a cake pop maker or a donut hole pan. If you don't have/don't want to buy either of those you can just use a mini cupcake pan. Your donut holes won't be round, but they'll be just as tasty!
- You can add cocoa powder to the glaze to make a chocolate glaze or sprinkle the still-wet glazed donut holes with toasted shredded coconut if desired.
Ever made healthy donuts? Ready to try this delicious recipe? Share below!