Since I don't eat meat, I never got onboard the whole chocolate-and-bacon trend, but even if I did eat meat, the thought of greasy bacon on a cupcake or covered in chocolate makes me a little bit queasy. I'm all for savory-sweet combinations, but I can't wrap my brain around that one.
Now coconut bacon, that's a different story. Coconut bacon is everything good about actual bacon — the subtle sweetness, the smokiness, the crispiness, that salty, savory flavor everyone loves — but without the greasiness or the meat. This is a bacon that is made for pairing with chocolate.
It's also a bacon for pairing with doughnuts.
Coconut bacon, if you haven't made it before, is a really simple substitute — raw coconut flakes are tossed with tamari or soy sauce, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, maple syrup, water, and cracked black pepper, then baked in the oven until they're crispy. We've added them to a salad back in May, and they can be used in most ways you'd use store-bought bacon bits. Once you've given it a try, you'll want to have a batch on hand at all times — it's good stuff.
Anyway, back to the doughnuts. These are baked doughnuts, so they're a little bit different than the kind you get at Krispy Kreme. I don't like cake doughnuts, because they're much too dense and dry for me, and the squishy doughnuts always leave me wanting more (I'm convinced they're 90% air, 10% doughnut), but these baked doughnuts are what would happen if cake doughnuts and squishy doughnuts had a baby — they're soft and tender, but they have a little more heft to them than a Krispy Kreme. Oh, and since they're made with flax egg and almond milk, they're vegan too!
Because I didn't want the taste of the doughnuts to compete with the topping, I flavored them with just a touch of vanilla. Then I dipped them in a thick chocolate glaze — one might even describe it as a luxurious chocolate glaze — and topped them with their crowning glory, smoky coconut bacon. Oh yes! To make them even smokier, I sprinkled a tiny bit of smoked sea salt on top too, although this is optional.
If you eat these doughnuts right away, the coconut bacon will be crisp, but if you let them sit for a while, the coconut will soften a little bit as it absorbs the moisture from the glaze. We enjoyed the heck out of these both ways, but fresh-and-crispy had a slight edge, so if you can, you might want to bake these in advance and then glaze 'em and bacon 'em before serving.
- A pinch or two of smoked sea salt
Make the coconut bacon:
- Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the liquid smoke, tamari, maple syrup, water, paprika, and ground black pepper in a medium bowl. Add the coconut flakes and toss to coat. Transfer the coconut to the baking sheet and spread it out in an even layer.
- Bake the coconut for about 10 minutes, until it's browned and crisp, stirring after 5 minutes. Coconut bacon goes from done to burnt really quickly, so you'll want to keep a close eye on it after the 5 minute mark to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove from oven and set aside.
Make the doughnuts:
- Increase the oven temperature to 350ºF. Lightly coat two 6-count mini-doughnut tins with coconut oil or an oil mister. (If you only have one tin, you can make the doughnuts in batches.)
- Whisk together the flaxseed and warm water in a small mixing bowl; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
- Once the flaxseed mixture has achieved a gel-like consistency, stir in the sugar, vanilla extract, coconut oil, and almond milk. Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just incorporated.
- Spoon the batter into the doughnut tin or transfer it to a zip-top bag and pipe it in as shown here. You'll want it to fill each doughnut cup ¾ of the way up.
- Bake the doughnuts for 8-10 minutes, or until they've puffed up and spring back when gently poked. Let the doughnuts cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finishing cooling.
Make the glaze:
- Once the doughnuts have cooled to room temperature, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a shallow bowl. You'll want to make sure any lumps are broken up. Stir in 1 tablespoon of almond milk and the vanilla extract. Keep stirring until the sugar is fully incorporated. If the glaze is too thick, add additional almond milk 1 teaspoon at a time — you want the glaze to be on the thick side, though, so I've found 1 additional teaspoon is usually perfect.
Top the doughnuts:
- Use your hands to break up and crumble the coconut bacon and transfer it to a small plate. Place a baking sheet or paper towels under the cooling rack to catch any drips.
- Dip the tops of each doughnut in the glaze, then gently press the glazed doughnuts into the crumbled coconut bacon. Put the doughnuts back onto the cooling rack for the glaze to set — if there are some spots on the doughnuts that are bare, sprinkle a little additional bacon on those spots. If you're using smoked salt, sprinkle a small amount onto the doughnuts while the glaze is still wet. Eat immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.