chocolate buttermilk doughnuts

On my way home from the market today I realized I've been an adult most of my life. Sure, there was a fleeting few minutes when I felt like a kid, but as you've likely guessed most of my childhood was not spent carefree.

What makes today's moment significant is that as the thought occurred to me, somewhere between pondering making mussels or fried rice for dinner, I finally felt a sense of relief. It was as though someone had opened the window to my soul and let the hurt and heartache fly away with a burst of wind.

The memories will always be there—what matters is what I do with them. Do I let the past pull me me away from enjoying the here and now?


The last few weeks, I've been focusing on small changes, the ones I can do something about. Working from the inside out, so to speak.

I started a mind and body detox. Giving up coffee was the easiest part. Allowing myself time to breathe—now that was a challenge. I used to wake around 5:45am to work before stirring the girls.

Now I spend that time doing yoga, meditating and a lot of ab work to remind myself my mid-section is meant for more than just storing sweets. While coffee has been introduced back, I now consider it a treat, and savor the aroma and taste, rather than down it like water. In the midst I've discovered how much I love herbal infusions—lemon, fresh mint and ginger, mainly, hence that marmalade last week.

I feel very centered, even in the midst of Virginia's terrible twos, though she's closer to three than I can bare to accept.

I tried keeping a diary a few times during my teen years and failed at it completely. I'd open the pages and realize I had nothing to say.

At least not to a piece of paper.

The idea of writing my thoughts down to share with myself just seemed like an odd exercise. My sister kept stacks of notepads to record her thoughts, and wrote in them quite obsessively. She used them as a way to dive deeper into her own world, shutting out those around who truly loved her.

And then I realized this today—my blog is a virtual diary, something I never imagined or intended it to become. I hide it under the guise of recipes (talk about cooking being a form of therapy), but it has allowed me to confront feelings I just don't think I could sitting on a couch, facing another human being.

Realization no. 3 for the day? I haven't been alone. Now this may seem like a silly point, but really I thought sharing my recipes would be the lure. Who wouldn't be curious about chocolate buttermilk doughnuts? It turns out so many of you come for the stories too. This post in particular resonated with a lot of you, and the way you reached out to "hold" my hand during a difficult time left me feeling overwhelmed in a good way.

So, this recipe…these chocolate buttermilk doughnuts. They're my gift to you. If I could show up on each of your doorsteps, I'd be carrying a basket of them lined with a pretty blue gingham cloth napkin.

Some of you have been regular readers for a while. Others have recently found their way here, and your comments and tweets are a ray of sunshine. 

Quite a few have become very real friends, who I've had the chance to hug, break bread and even sing karaoke with (Marc, please make sure that video never sees daylight). And then there are those who I count the days down until we finally meet.

I thank you all for sharing time from your busy days to see what I've been up to.

Especially the most important person who has made it possible for me to be here, at this point in my life.

To be there for my girls, our girls, every afternoon.

The person who allows me to savor slow mornings with my sweet baby.

The person who has seen me grow from a quiet, yet assertive young girl, into a woman.

The person who said okay when I decided I needed a break from the restaurant world to pursue my real dreams.

The person who showed me a clipping from Newsweek over a decade ago about becoming a personal chef.

I love you, and thank you for sharing this most unexpected life together.

Chocolate Buttermilk Doughnuts

makes 6

Not in the mood for chocolate? Try these lemon buttermilk doughnuts on my Cuisinart blog.

3/4 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup (.95 ounces/27 grams) dark cocoa powder (I use Guittard)

1/4 cup (2 ounces/56 grams) natural cane sugar

1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder

1/8 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda

¼ teaspoon (2 grams) sea salt

1/3 cup (75 ml) buttermilk, well-shaken

1 large (50 grams) egg

3 tablespoons brewed coffee, cooled

1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter, melted

Topping Suggestions

Confectioners’ sugar

Caramel sauce

Chocolate ganache, warmed to spreading consistency


Preheat oven to 425ºF. Coat one 6-doughnut nonstick baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a measuring cup, use a fork to beat the buttermilk, egg, coffee and melted butter until well blended. Pour over the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir together until just combined. Evenly spoon into the prepared doughnut pan and bake for 8 to 9 minutes, until doughnuts spring back when touched.

Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Use a small strainer to sift Confectioners’ sugar over tops before serving, if desired, or dip the tops into a bowl of chocolate ganache and scatter sprinkles across.


  • Jennifer Reid

    What a beautiful, heart-felt post Jen! I know exactly what you mean by your blog being your virtual diary…I’ve been saved by mine in exactly the same way. Sending you hugs through cyberspace xo

  • jen

    I have been reading your blog for awhile but never left a comment. I originally came for the recipes, but I’ve found that I will read your entries even if I am not interested in the dish because of your stories and insight. You have a beautiful voice that keeps me coming back to your site.
    Thanks for sharing the stories (and recipes)!

  • Lana

    I come here and I hear my own voice. I was the oldest, and I always had a diary. So many notebooks ripped apart and destroyed because I looked back and hated my writing. If only I could have them all back…
    Yes, this is a virtual diary, and there are many people who like to read what you have to say, because you say it in a way that brings it home to so many of us.
    Than you for sharing a part of your life:)

  • Carolyn

    I love this recipe… have you tried it without a doughnut pan? And any suggestions where they’re available?

  • Jennie

    Carolyn: since baked doughnuts are cake-like, they need a pan to hold their shape. I bought mine at Sur La Table for $11, but they sell them on Amazon too for a comparable price.

  • DC

    @Carolyn–I bake donuts all of the time without a doughnut pan. You can use a donut cutter. They are small and easy to use. They are at most home stores or Amazon. I saw one for less than 2 dollars
    Jennie’s Note: @DC while I’m sure baking free form would work for a raised, or yeasted doughnut recipe, this one is more a batter, with the leavening agent being baking powder. The consistency of this recipe is not one that can be rolled out and cut.

  • Mairi @ Toast

    Another beautiful post, you have a real way with words. Made me smile your comments about a work so true :)Now I just have to find a doughnut pan….

  • renee

    I too have been an adult all my life. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? That must be the reason I tried to live a new childhood along with my daughter. I was still a responsible parent and my 24 year old girl still sees me as a best friend. We did together all that I missed. We had a lot of fun. I love your point ” why let the past pull me me away from enjoying the here and now?” I need to implement that now.

  • Carolyn

    I made these this morning, and coated them in cinnamon sugar while they were warm. My spouse couldn’t believe they weren’t from the local coffee shop. I also pressed them in the panini press later in the day – then dipped them in more cinnamon sugar. Amazing. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you for a healthier version of something I don’t usually indulge in.

  • Elissapr

    Well, I for one love reading your posts as much as virtually devouring your recipes…
    But yes…I do come for the writing!!