Imitation Tim Hortons Double Chocolate Donuts: Vegan

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I’m a bit of a donut fiend. Maybe it’s because Canadian culture is so closely tied to Tim Hortons donuts and coffee. Maybe it’s because my parents celebrated all their children’s tee-ball, softball, and baseball wins with a box of donuts. Maybe it’s because no road trip was complete without a couple donuts… It may be safe to say I was raised on donuts. Strangely enough, I only started making donuts this year. I’m as shocked as you are.

Fortunately, vegan donuts are pretty easy to find and purchase in Toronto (where I live), though they vary widely in quality. When I started my vegan journey, donuts were one of the first vegan treats I sampled that made me think, “Oh yeah, I could do this.” However, having been raised on the variety and consistency of Tim Hortons donuts, there was still something I missed from the doughy, krispy kreme-esque vegan donuts I found. I missed the cake donuts, the old fashioned, the chewy and crunchy — the double chocolate.

The Tim Hortons double chocolate donut is in a league of its own (I love that movie…), and I had yet to ever see its equal, until I stumbled across this non-vegan chocolate donut recipe and decided to veganize it.

If you follow my blog, you may have noticed my passion for taking non-vegan recipes and making them vegan. I love to do it because it reinforces for me how unnecessary it is to make food and tasty food from animal suffering. With a few easy substitutions, you can get a perfectly tasty version, that is often better than the original. I wish more non-vegan food bloggers would start incorporating vegan alternatives, so they could see how easy it is. Mini rant over.

This recipe gets the perfect chocolate cake donut base. It’s soft, chewy, slightly crunchy crust from the frying. When the dough is combined with the sweet, silky chocolate ganache topping, it makes the perfect imitation Tim’s Double Chocolate Donut. It’s so perfect, I almost don’t understand.

In most of my recipes, I encourage readers to take their own approach and substitute and adjust as preferred, but I would highly discourage adaptations of this one. Also, you must fry the donuts, rather than bake, in order to get the right texture and taste. Believe me.

The recipe takes a bit of time, as you have to wait in between stages. This makes it a bad choice for last-minute desserts, but a good choice for a lazy -bit-at-a-time approach. The dough needs to chill before cutting, so I like to make the dough up a day in advance. It’s worth it, though. The donuts are best enjoyed the same day as frying, but will keep in the fridge for longer. They lose the crunch on the outside after storing, but stay delicious and chewy.

Vegan Imitation Tim Hortons Double Chocolate Donuts

These donuts are easy to make and yield delicious results. The most challenging part of the recipe is maintaining the correct oil heat while frying, but even then, it’s pretty fool proof. This recipe will make between 14 and 28 donuts (with or without donut hole bites), depending on the size of your cutter. I opt for smaller donuts of larger quantity, as they are quite rich.

Prep time: 2 hours (1 hour for chilling + 30 minutes for making and cutting the dough + 15 minutes for ganache topping + 15 minutes for cooling).

Cook time: 20-30 minutes (4 minutes per donut batch)

Ingredients

Donut Dough

  • 2 cups cake flour (or 2 cups organic all-purpose flour, minus 4 tbsp + 4 tbsp corn starch)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 (rounded) cup cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp refined coconut oil (without scent)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax meal + 5 tbsp hot water)
  • 1/2 cup vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti brand)
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Donut Ganache Dip

  • 1/2 can (full can at 210g) sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 3/4 cups chopped vegan dark chocolate
  • (optional) 1 tbsp melted cocoa butter

Directions

To make the donuts, start by prepping your flax eggs. In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp flax meal (ground flax seeds) with 5 tbsp hot water. Typically, the ratio of flax meal to water is 1 to 3, but you want these eggs to be a bit thicker with less liquid. Mix, and set aside to thicken and congeal.

Next, in a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together your dry ingredients (excluding sugar). The recipe that I adapted this from calls for cake flour, as do many donut recipes; however, I’ve had perfect results from using the substitution of all purpose flour with corn starch. Go with whatever you have on hand, with a prioritizing of organic ingredients. Mix dry ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together coconut oil (at room temp. state) and sugar until they form a sandy paste. A note on ingredient choices here: you can use vegan butter instead of refined coconut oil, but it is cleaner and easier to avoid common allergens with coconut oil; additionally, if not using cane sugar, make sure your sugar is vegan. Most refined sugars are not vegan and are processed through animal bone char.

Make sure your flax eggs have goopified into a sticky and viscous consistency before adding to the sugar and oil, and beat.

Measure out 1 cup of half vegan sour cream and half apple sauce.

Next, mix the separate mixes together in parts. Add dry mix to wet in 3 parts, alternating with sour cream and apple sauce cup in 2 parts. At each addition, mix in thoroughly before adding the next portion. Finish with the dry addition.

The dough will be fairly sticky at this point, but should be thick and bouncy. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, or wax paper and towel, and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. In this time, the dough will firm a bit to be easier to work with. You can make the dough ahead of time and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days before frying.

Once dough has chilled, roll out on floured surface to a thickness of 1/2″. Cut into donut shapes with a donut cutter, or 2 cookie cutters of smaller size. I prefer smaller donuts, so I like to cut mine out with my half cup measuring cup, and then a piping tip for the centre. (Optional) round out the edges of the donut a bit before frying. Two centres rolled together make the perfect size for donut holes.

While you are cutting donuts, prepare your frying pot. I use a large pot and set on medium-low heat. Fill with 2 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 375 degrees F. (Check with a candy thermometer or a temperature gun.) Be careful to check the temperature regularly, and start low and go slow. Once oil starts to heat, it can shoot up in temperature quickly and is hard to cool.

Once all your donuts have been shaped, and your temperature is correct, add your donuts to the oil quickly, with a slotted spoon. Don’t overcrowd the donuts, but you can fit several in. Cook on each side for roughly 2 minutes a side. Adjust based on your oil and dough. I recommend testing a donut oil for cooking times before proceeding with the whole batch. Drain on paper towels, and allow to fully cool before icing.

Ganache Dip Directions

While the donuts are cooling after being fried, make you chocolate ganache dip. This is basically my recipe for vegan chocolate truffles, but I added a bit of cocoa butter to help with the setting. You can omit the cocoa butter, but your dip will be softer.

Chop up your chocolate into small chunks. Melt coconut milk, either in a bowl in the microwave for 30 second intervals (mix between), or above a double boiler. Be careful not to burn the milk, and heat slowly and not too hot.

Once the coconut milk is a bit bubbly and warm, add in the chocolate. Let sit for a moment to heat, before stirring. It should melt in the warm coconut milk. If you find you need more heat after thoroughly stirring, return to heat source (microwave or double boiler) and gently heat for 30 more seconds. Stir. Once your chocolate has melted in the coconut milk, separately melt your cocoa butter and add into the chocolate mixture.

Assembling

Now the really fun part! The donuts have cooled and the dip is soft and gooey. Take one donut at a time, and dip half-way into the chocolate ganache. Swirl a bit to get a generous coating, and flip back right-side-up, trying not to drip topping everywhere. Rest on a rack to set. Repeat for all donuts and donut holes.

Enjoy with coffee or tea and be transported to your childhood! (Well, I was…) 🙂

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