I'm a big fan of doughnuts, but I'll be honest: making my own—including resting, rolling, cutting, frying, and glazing the dough—just isn't going to happen. So, when I saw the Pillsbury Glazed Chocolate Lil' Donut Kit, I thought it might be the perfect compromise between store bought and from-scratch doughnut holes. Besides, making little (sorry, "lil'") chocolate doughnuts at home sounded like fun.
The kit comes with everything you need: a bag of doughnut mix (which gets mixed with water and softened butter), a bag of glaze mix (which gets mixed with milk), and some sprinkles. No special pan, frying, or rolling of the dough is required; the doughnuts are baked on a standard cookie sheet, in round, teaspoon-sized balls.
Preparation of the dough is quick and easy. It came together with only a few minutes of mixing, but had the texture of wet, rubbery Play-Doh and smelled only vaguely like chocolate. Normally, I'm tempted to swipe a taste (or seven) of raw batter or dough while baking, but my willpower wasn't tested once. When I did sample the dough (strictly for scientific purposes) it tasted practically flavorless,
like Play-Doh like what I assume Play-Doh must taste like.
The directions say the doughnuts should be shaped by rounded teaspoons, but to be safe I tested three different sizes: a teaspoon of dough, a heaping teaspoon, and a tablespoon (much to the delight of my cat, who looked on from the "stadium seating" of the breakfast bar.)
After 12 minutes at 375°F, they were all evenly baked, so it really doesn't matter too much how big you make them.
Once out of the oven, the previously round balls were transformed into what looked like brownish-grey mini muffin tops with a craggy exterior and an interior that tasted more like a biscuit than a doughnut. Still, I soldiered on, hoping the glaze and Funfetti sprinkles could fix the doughnuts, at least to the point of edibility.
In one sense, that happened. Bathed in the thick vanilla glaze, the doughnuts tasted a lot better, but only in the sense that the faint chocolate non-flavor was sufficiently choked under a thick coating of vanilla flavoring and powdered sugar. Even though I only ate two of them, I definitely got a nice sugar buzz going, but ultimately, the entire experience only made me crave doughnuts. Actual doughnuts, not sad little flat-bottomed chocolate cake balls drowning in sugar.
Considering that the kit (which makes 24 doughnuts) is $3.99, and two dozen doughnut holes is typically less than that, you might as well leave the doughnut making to the professionals. Don't let the doughboy's maniacal grin fool you: these lil' donuts are duds.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax
Want more of the sweet stuff? Follow us on Twitter @SeriousSweets