Ever wonder about a mix you've seen in the store? Is it any good? Could it replace something you'd otherwise make from scratch? Welcome to Mixed Review, where the whole point is putting mixes to the test! —The Mgmt.
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A note on the side of Stonewall Kitchen's new Chocolate Doughnut Mix ($8.95) reads: "In minutes, with just a few pantry ingredients, your kitchen could be the most popular doughnut shop in the neighborhood!" With visions of warm, cakey doughnuts dripping with fudgy frosting dancing through my head, I snapped up not only the mix, but also the requisite doughnut baking pan.
Ever since I was little, when my mother would occasionally reward me for good behavior with a trip to the local Honey Dew shop, I've had a weakness for chocolate doughnuts with chocolate frosting—bonus points for sprinkles. I was excited to try Stonewall Kitchen's mix, which seemed simple enough and billed itself as somewhat healthy: "No yeast is added, and the doughnuts are baked not fried... less mess and fat!"
To prepare the doughnuts, I combined the contents of the mix packet with one egg, one stick of melted butter, and 1/2 cup of buttermilk. The resulting mixture was sticky and thick, more like dough than batter. I had to spoon blobs of it into the doughnut pan and then sort of smooth them out with my fingers to form rings.
When the doughnuts emerged from the oven, the "tops" were a bit lumpy and misshapen, but the bottoms (which had been pressed into the pan) were smooth and even, and looked just like professional doughnuts. I flipped them all upside-down and set them on a wire rack to cool.
The chocolate frosting was a combination of melted butter, a few tablespoons of milk, and the contents of the "frosting" mix packet. When whisked all together, it had the consistency of pudding. It adhered to the doughnuts beautifully, filling in all the cracks and crannies, dripping enticingly down the sides, and ultimately drying to a semi-firm finish. The texture was similar to the frosting on a really good black and white cookie.
The best thing about the doughnuts was the chocolate flavor. I don't think I've ever had a doughnut so rich, intense, and bittersweet. The cocoa powder in both the doughnut mix and the frosting was obviously top-quality. The texture of the doughnuts was good but not great. Like the best cake doughnuts from a bakery, they had a nice toothsome crumb. The frosting was thick and creamy. It set up nicely on the doughnut and then melted on the tongue. But the doughnuts were also ever-so-slightly dense and just a bit dry. This is a result, I'm sure, of the fact that they were baked and not fried.
In the end, I would recommend the mix with some reservations. Along with the baking pan, it would make a terrific gift for any doughnut lover. Preparing the doughnuts would also be a really fun project for kids. But as my boyfriend said as he dunked one into his coffee, "They're delicious. But they're no Krispy Kreme."