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Chocolate Pumpkin Donuts with Buttercream

These chocolate pumpkin donuts topped with brown sugar buttercream and chopped pecans are so tasty, you won’t even notice that they’re baked instead of fried!

Show up to a dinner party with these chocolate pumpkin donuts with brown sugar buttercream in hand and you’ll definitely be met with smiles (and maybe even some delighted squeals.) They may be impressive, but the beauty of cake donuts is that, since they don’t need to rise, they’re really quick to make.

The hardest part was deciding what flavor I wanted to go with. (I debated my options for hours!)

Like always, I used Gold Medal flour. I love the history of the brand and enjoyed learning more about it when I visited them in Minneapolis last month. Did you know that the name comes from the fact that they actually won a gold medal? I mean, duh, but that had never actually occurred to me before. It turns out that way back in 1880 their flours won the gold, silver, and bronze medals at the International Millers’ Exhibition. Pretty impressive! I might have been in an oddly nostalgic mood, but using such an iconic brand to make such an iconic dessert kind of gave me chills.

Pumpkin puree keeps these donuts really tender and rich, and gives them a subtly earthy flavor that goes really nicely with the chocolate. They taste more chocolate-y the first day, but as they sit overnight the pumpkin flavor becomes more pronounced.

Since the brown sugar buttercream that is super sweet, I intentionally went a little easier on the sugar in the cake. On their own, the donuts definitely need a little something extra, but once you frost them and add a few pecans for crunch they’re kind of amazing. So amazing, if face, that I completely forgot to tell people that they were baked – and they didn’t notice.

Chocolate Pumpkin Donuts with Brown Sugar Buttercream

To make these donuts, you’ll need a donut pan like this one. They’re becoming easier and easier to find (I think I picked mine up at Home Goods). If you don’t have a donut pan, you can make donut “holes” by baking them in a mini muffin pan instead – they’ll only need about 10 minutes in the oven.

Author: Lauren Keating

Serves: 12


For the donuts:

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1-3/4 cups Gold Medal® all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the frosting:

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • chopped pecans (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in the sugars, then stir in the pumpkin puree.
  3. In a second bowl or large measuring cup, stir together the remaining ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there are no lumps.
  4. Spoon ¼ cup of batter into each well of a 12-donut pan, as neatly as you can (you can also use a pastry bag to pipe it into the pan). Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a donut comes out clean. Let the donuts cool, then remove from the pan.
  5. While the donuts cool, prepare the frosting. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter until it’s light and fluffy. Add the sugars, vanilla, and milk and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. If necessary, you can thin the frosting out with a little more milk.
  6. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled donuts. Top with chopped pecans, if desired.


This post was sponsored by Gold Medal Flour. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep me inspired in the kitchen.







For the Crumb Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar (2 2/3 ounces)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (2 2/3 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and still warm
1 3/4 cups cake flour (7 ounces)

For the Cake
1 1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


1. To make the Topping:
Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine. Add
flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture
resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature,
10 to 15 minutes.

2. To make the Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 9×13 pan with nonstick foil.

3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix
flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine. With mixer
running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating
until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks
remaining, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat
on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping
once if necessary.

4. Transfer batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter
into even layer. Top with the large crumbs.  Bake until crumbs are golden
and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40
minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan by
lifting foil overhang. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before


If you are looking for a way to literally spice up your apple cider, this is the perfect recipe!  I found this recipe in my Taste of Home Holiday cookbook and am so glad I finally tried it!  Add some spices to vanilla ice cream and then add it to your apple cider and your drink will taste like apple pie in a mug….soooo yummy!  
Hot Apple Pie Sipper
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 pint vanilla ice cream (2 cups), softened
4 cups hot apple cider
In a large bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until light and fluffy. Beat in ice cream.  Cover and freeze until firm.  For each serving, place 1/3 cup ice cream mixture in a mug and add 2/3 cup of hot cider.  Enjoy!   
(I forgot to put the brown sugar in the picture, but don’t forget to include it!)