chocolate gingerbread doughnuts {day 130}

Chocolate Gingerbread Doughnuts | In Jennie's Kitchen

Mikey never guessed fatherhood was one of his destinies to be fulfilled. He was diagnosed with a medical condition in his early twenties, which required a form of chemotherapy treatment to help him heal. This was a decade before we met.

At the time, his doctor told him to put some of his “boys” on ice just in case he wanted to have kids one day. When I became pregnant, saying we were shocked is putting it mildly—I was on the pill too. You know that little disclaimer about using backup contraception if you’re on antibiotics? Well, it wasn’t there back in 2002.

And thank heavens it wasn’t.

To think one simple sentence could’ve changed the course of our lives would’ve surprised me 130 days. Now, I know how one split-second can change a life forever.

The change that happened on August 7th sucked.

The one that occurred on one day in July of 2002—that was one of the best things that ever happened to both me and Mikey.

Are you listening to mommy Isabella? One day, if you’re reading this when you grow up, I want to remind you that YOU are special.


YOU were our miracle.

YOU were our gift.

YOU coming into our lives was the most defining moment in daddy’s life.

Loving you helped daddy realize his full potential as a person. You opened his heart in ways I never could’ve. The love a father and daughter share is a bond that death can never take away.

Today, Isabella and I had to relive the day Mikey died. In watching her talk about the events of the day, and answering her questions, I learned something too—confronting the fear takes away its power. Yes, sadness will take its place, but the fear cannot rule you anymore.

My fears have been many. The last few days I’ve been forgetful. When I opened the pantry tonight to get some chocolate for a recipe, I couldn’t remember where I placed it. This may not sound like a big deal, but it lead to me to start thinking I had a brain tumor and only months to live.

Maybe I’m being dramatic, but forgetting where something I use everyday was stored, unnerved me. It’s all about a sense of control these days. The truth is, sleep is something that doesn’t come easy this last week. As the holidays draw closer I miss Mikey so much.

I do my best to harness happiness every step of the way, but the quiet nights are not easy. So I retreat to the kitchen and bake at 10:00pm. Tonight I realized I need to confront my fear.

Sharing new recipes with you doesn’t make his death permanent. A disease that affects one in a million—literally, is what ripped him from our lives.

One in a fucking million! (pretend you didn’t see that if you’re still reading Isabella)

My husband had to be the one millionth person in line for Good Pasture’s Syndrome?

Are you kidding me?

Tonight I’m giving fear the middle finger. You won’t own me.

Tonight I’m going to soak my pillow with tears.

Tonight I will let the sadness take hold, and hope as I always do that Mikey will come to me in my dreams.

But first, I’m going to do something that makes me happy. As I typed that last sentence the tears stopped flowing, and now cling gently to my eyelashes. Just the thought of sharing a new recipe with all of you made me stop and smile.

So many of you say I inspire you, but really it is all of you who give me hope, and for that gift I come bearing chocolate gingerbread cake doughnuts. Wrap your arms around yourself and hold on tight—that’s me hugging you, wishing you a happy and merry. Here’s to peace, love and happiness—and leaving fear behind as 2011 weaves into 2012.

This recipe is now part of my new site, Simmering. It can be found by searching the archives here.



  • debra/eatquestnyc

    a toast to that! and wishing you an extra hug back, the strength to let the pillow dry and rise again, and selfishly – the joy that sharing your food gives you to continue and grow because it gives us (me) so so much as well. thank you for the donuts.

  • Scott

    Sharing your life, your stories, your most personal stories is a way to heal. Your strength is amazing, and so is this recipe. Gingerbread doughnuts, with caramel sauce! Wow. 🙂

  • Marisa

    Not sure if this will be at all comforting, but learned in exhibit on the brain at AMNH that the cells responsible for memory shrink after traumatic/stressful episodes as a means of self preservation. This was studied in soldiers with PTSD, which is obviously not the same, but my cousin who recently lost his dad in a freak accident reports some memory loss. Jeff says that in the year since he lost his Dad, he has been depressed and part of that is losing his keys a lot. So, with all you have faced, I am not surprised you’ve misplaced the chocolate. I hope in 2012, there are many things you will find again that you thought you’d lost, too. And maybe some new things will just appear to you that you weren’t even seeking.

  • Jessica R.

    Thank you for this gift Jenny. And I’m not just saying that because I have a slightly unhealthy relationship with donuts!
    I wish I could hug you in person this week and wrap you in a warm embrace. Thinking of you…

  • Maria

    Jennie what can I say, that is so beautiful but so stinkin sad, my heart just aches for you…thank you for the hug, right back at you girl…those donuts look amazing, but I swear I am going to start my diet Jan 1!! this paisano is going to do it this time!!
    Merry Christmas to you and the girls…maria

  • Kathy H.

    Hugs to you Jennifer. You have such a soothing way of writing, a calm comes over me when I read your entries. I’m going to try this recipe with my daughter.

  • Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips

    “confronting the fear takes away its power” oh Jennie that sentence means so much, thank you. My heart just goes out to you so much, and I wish I could give you a big hug. I know nothing I can say would make it better, but please know that YOU do inspire me, you, and Mikey, and your love, it all inspires me. In so many ways. And for that, I thank you 🙂

  • karen

    I am going to tackle this recipe on Sunday; it looks fabulous. It’s not something I would normally make, but after reading your post I will create a celebratory batch in honor of your flipping fear the bird! Thanks, Jennie.

  • Rachel Willen

    Thanks for the donuts! What a shock to learn about Mikey’s condition. One in a million…I know how that makes you feel…so off balance to know that life can change in a heartbeat. I lost my mom in a car accident and will never forget the shock of that call… I had a heart attack this year from a rare condition called SCAD…that effects perfectly healthy women..many young and pregnant…just three days after you lost Mikey….so I’ve been really with you since that week when someone told me about your blog…I look forward to seeing you get back into the kitchen and share more with us…and it makes me feel good to know it’s such a comfort to you….

  • Treasa

    You are an amazing woman! Reading your blog reminds me of what really matters and is important. I want to wish you and your girls a Merry Christmas. Here’s to leaving the fear behind!

  • Kim in MD

    The tears are streaming on my face as I finished this post, too, Jennie. I have never heard of Good Pasture’s Syndrome, but I clicked on the link to get more information. The doughnuts look incredible, and I’m glad that making them brought you some comfort. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Pat

    Thanks for sharing about your pregnancy. The exact same thing happened to my daughter! Isn’t God good! He knew I wanted to be a grandma SOOO bad! 😉 My thoughts and prayers are with you and Isabella. I can’t even begin to understand. Most blessings..

  • Joni

    I have been reading your blog for some time now, but have never commented until now. I have to tell you that you never cease to amaze me. Your words, strength, insights, and love you have shown, are inspirational. Inspirational not in the religious sense…inspirational in the human sense. Much love to you and your girls!

  • SimplyTastyBits

    Any recommendations on the best pan to use for folks who don’t have doughnut pans? Would these work as muffins or small loaves of bread?
    Might I also recommend, in addition to holiday music blasting this season, giving Florence and the Machine’s new album Ceremonials a listen. Cathartic and powerful do not say enough about the songs.

  • kathleen

    Jennie, I am a new reader of your blog, and am touched by your generosity in sharing your story, trials, and triumphs. Thinking of you & your girls & Mikey very often. I am well acquainted with grief, and mental confusion and forgetfulness go hand in hand in the early months. For quite some time after our daughter died I felt like I had half a brain. So do not worry about your brain right now! Be gentle with yourself. Best Regards, Kathie Interess

  • Stephanie

    Ah Jennie, your words continue to inspire me. Just getting through these holidays will be so tough, and yet you will come out the other side stronger. Each “first” without Mikey would be so much harder to overcome without the wonderful things you shared and created together to help you through those difficult times. Looking at what you fear or dread, and then plowing through them while holding onto the good memories can help break the hold it has over you. When the heartbreak and sorrow comes, hold onto what was wonderful in your lives together and happiness will come as well.

  • Lauren V

    I am a new reader to your blog- I think you are amazing. Your posts and recipes are so genuine and heart felt.
    Lots of love and big hugs to you, thank you for sharing your first new recipe with us. I look forward to trying to make it and in the meantime I enjoy cooking and reading your older recipes.

  • Carolyn

    Thank you for sharing what’s on your heart and for this new recipe -looks delicious! Baking is my comfort, too and I totally understand backing in the middle of the night to calm and sooth. I wish you peace.

  • Lauren

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now, and while I can’t empathize with what you’re going through, I still keep coming back to read your beautifully written words. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling since the death of your husband, but you convey your emotions so well, that each blog post leaves me with a lump in my throat. Thank you for sharing this tough time with the world. I’m sure it’s helping a lot of people going through similar hardships.

  • Barbara simonds

    Wow. I never posted before this…I’m a very private person and hold my emotions close to my chest. I retreat to a safe spot to let them fly! I’ve followed you since August and have watched you emerge in the posts. Mikey must have loved you so much…your little unit will always be in my prayers…thx for the holiday encouragement. Love the doughnuts!

  • Lisa Lettenmaier

    Peace, Love and best wishes to you!! Hoping you get stronger one day at a time!! Blessings to you and yours!!

  • Deanna Middleton

    Bless you and your daughters during this special season. Thank you for sharing your life. I admire you.

  • Ali O

    Thank you for sharing all that you do….I think that you’re amazing. I know that you can’t have everything you wish for this holiday season but, I am wishing you peace, love & happiness this year. I am wishing you healing & blessings & so much more.

  • MaryKay Roddy

    Thank you so much for the hug! You ARE an inspiration and a joy to follow. Besides your booking ability, you write beautifully. All the best to you and your sweet girls.

  • Tuffnut827

    Oh Jenny, I am in tears… not because I am sad but because you just make me happy with your kindness (I could use a better description but I am at a lost for words). I probably look funny right now, tears and hugging myself inside my cubicle at work but heck, your hug felt good. I am a stranger to you, but I love you! And thank you for all these goodies you have shared. I have been baking and made homemade desserts to bring to family gatherings. I usually just buy ready-made stuff at the store but this year I just want to put love into all that I share with my family and friends. You inspire me. Merry Christmas to you and your girls…and may all your big dreams come true in the coming year.

  • Tali Simon @ More Quiche, Please

    Not to AT ALL compare the loss of a husband with the loss of a grandma, but I understand what you mean about wishing the person will come to you in a dream. I wished that often myself.
    On a lighter note, the gold glitter is gorgeous! Love it.
    ** I’m giving away a copy of Barefoot Bloggers on my blog. A must-read for anyone who blogs or is interested in the behind-the-scenes of blogging!

  • Jeanise

    I never do post a comment because we sort of know each others thoughts without having to say so. A wonderful perk of knowing each other for the past ….. 24 years (OK, I said it!). I just have to post on this entry.
    I am so very proud of you. You have a life to live for your girls and FOR YOU!! To say you are getting through this part of your life is an understatement! You will carry Mike with you for the rest of your life as will the girls, as will all that knew and loved him as well.
    So, do you! Throw up that middle figure and I will join you! Do what make sense to you instead of what is the right thing to do! Know that I will always be there for you and the girls as you are my family and will help you in anyway I can. Love you!

  • Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie

    So lovely and heartfelt. I recently lost my grandpa a little over a month ago. I keep a picture of him on my desk that I look at every day. And, though the days get easier to bear I still have unforeseen moments when grief and sadness wash over me and I cry and cry. But he was a baker. And in the end, I always go to the kitchen to bake one of his favorites to channel his memory to me. Hugs for your loss.

  • Emily

    And hugs to you as well, my dear. Thank you so much for sharing yourself the way you do. The recipes are amazing, to say the least, too. Peace, love and happiness to you and your girls.

  • Jodi

    I have to say that I came upon your blog after your husband had left this world and I have been grieving along with you and smiling with you when you have a good times too. I never knew what Mikey died from and when I read that he had Good Pasture’s I was floored! My oldest sister was diagnosied with it also, two years ago. We nearly didn’t catch it in time and we are still waiting to find a transplant canidate for her kidneys. Hardly anyone has heard of this syndrom and even doctors miss the symptoms until sometimes it is too late. I wish you healing with your grief and just know that you are not alone in hating that damn disease.

  • Kamaile

    I just got a donut pan and think these donuts will be perfect to break it in. It is amazing to think about how things could have been if this happened or that didn’t happen. Wishing you holiday with peace and love.

  • Kelly Smith

    Dear Jennie,
    I did not start reading your blog until I came across a link to the peanut butter pie. I have not stopped checking on you since, hoping that you are ok. I am so sad for your terrible loss and wish all the very best for you and your girls. I feel that over the last 130 days I have not only been reading about the most gut-wrenching, inexplicable down-right devastating pain, but also one of the most romantic and inspiring love stories ever.
    I am thankful for what you and Mikey had, I will continue checking on you. Love. x

  • Aseneth Luna Martinez

    Wishing you and to your family the best, I think and pray for your and your family often.
    Hang in there girl :o)

  • Roz@weightingfor50

    Beautiful post Jennie. I send your wishes YOU and your girls this coming year. (and Isabella, when you’re older, you’ll understand why mom dropped the “f bomb”.) 🙂 Take care Jennie, look forward to more of your wonderful recipes and beautiful posts!

  • Sarah E.

    I understand your fear… My Dad died of a once-in-a-million disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob) a little over 2 years ago. I was definitely not ready to be fatherless at such a young age or for the possibility that all 4 of us biological children may carry the same gene that killed my Dad. But God has a finite purpose for us all. My Dad and Mikey’s purpose in life must have been shorter than any of us ever wished or wanted… Hugs to you! May God grant you strength and peace, washing away all your fears.

  • Deanna

    I don’t have a doughnut pan, but I am definitely making these as mini bundt cakes. Thank you for reminding me to cherish the people I am fortunate to have in my life. Even in the holiday season, it is a much needed reminder.

  • Karen

    Jennifer, you are a fantastic writer, conveying everything you feel and experience so clearly. Vivian has shared your story, and I wish you and your daughter nothing but happiness, even on the days where it seems impossible.

  • Dawn K.

    You moved me to tears again…. I have had a very stressful week @ work, as I move into a new role filled with tons more responsibility. Reading your post gave me a perspective check. Thank you for your bravery, your courage, and for sharing so much of yourself with us….. Wishing you and your girls the best holiday possible. ….. dawn

  • Erin

    Dear Jennie,
    Good for you! Two years ago when I was full of hope and grand dreams, and a baby boy who was soon to introduce himself to me. My world came crashing down around my knees, ankles, feet and anything other crevasses it could find a place to settle, my husband’s leaving wasn’t nearly as instant as Mikey’s, but the loss and stomping on of dreams were the same reality that I faced. The day that my dream disintegrated, I made a vow to myself that I would do one thing everyday that scared me. The one thing could be as little as listening to the hip hop station on the radio, even if it was just one song! or coming home to a dark house with a new baby. But what I found was that the courage from doing one thing each day compounded, and now two years later, I am still doing one thing each day, and on Monday I write my 1st final exam for my 1st semester of my 1st year at University (I am a 34 year old, single mom of a 2 year old!) So to get to what I really wanted to say to you, is that you posting this NEW recipe made me cry for you, in a proud of you way. You are on the path of great courage, and courage will take you a long way! Much farther than you will and could ever expect!
    Thank you for sharing your open wounds, I hope that this is helping you on this unthinkable journey.
    This will be a hard Christmas, but it is sounding like you are embracing the season.
    To a courageous Christmas,

  • Terry

    How can so much love and goodness prevail in you when you have had to bear such a loss? This post tore me up in the best way possible and I cherish your hug. 2011 has been a tough one for us too and I am not sad to see it go. I fear people I love leaving instantly as that is what my brother and several friends and a doggie did this past year. But I am most happy to leave that fear behind and choose happiness and love. May 2012 be a new year full of love and light for all of us. Much love to you and your girls, Jennie

  • Hanna

    Thank you for lighting up another candle for us all. Love and peace to you and yours, now and in the future!

  • Kathleen Richardson

    I was so happy to read the recipe and see that I had every ingredient on hand. Then I realized I don’t have the pans. Darn.
    Last night I chose my next read from a stack of books bedside… Tender Grace, by Jackina Stark. I thought of you.
    Merry Christmas.

  • Michelle in NH

    Thank you for the donuts & the hug! You & your girls remain in my thoughts & prayers. A Christmas toast to Mikey for all the gifts he continues to give you & us, your readers. Blessings.

  • Sarah C.

    Short term memory loss is normal. It happened to me after my mom died suddenly. I thought I was losing my mind, so I spoke with a counselor, and he confirmed that it can be a symptom of grief/loss. Not sure if this helps, but perhaps it will make you feel less alone in the aftermath…

  • Emily (BurbsMama)

    I feel your pain so strongly, and thank you for being able to share b/c you make all of us stop and remember what’s important in life… instead of worrying about the petty BS that bogs you down. My “miracle” came in July 2002 – a result of the antibiotic/pill disclaimer issue as well.. and she, too, was the best thing that ever happened to him 🙂 Sending you girls prayers and huge hugs back. Again, thanks for conintuing to inspire !!

  • Kate Palmer

    As a first time viewer of your blog this is the post I saw – I now have tears rolling down my cheeks and sending you a hug right back. Give your baby a hug and hold your hubby’s memory tight. I’m gonna give mine a squeeze on your behalf right now.

  • Diane

    Wow..your words continue to inspire me with every post!
    Big hugs back to you and your wonderful Girls!
    Wishing you back a Happy and Merry:)
    Your one of a kind!!

  • Margie

    I was running my eyeballs through the recipe and came upon that item called a doughnut pan. My kitchen, though tiny, is a bevy of glorious overload when it comes to baking dishes and pans, with that exception. I plan on trying my mini cupcake pan. I will definitely come back and give you an update on timing.
    Giving fear a voice is the best way to chase it ragged. You make me sing. There is hope in every word you write.

  • Angie

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, Jenny. I made these for my family on Sunday and they loved them. You brought great joy and happy bellies to my family!

  • Erin

    I sent You a comment on this post about courage. I really struggled on wishing you the best for Christmas, because wishing you a Merry Christmas didn’t seem appropriate.
    I was just listening to Bono’s rendition of I Believe in Father Christmas, a couple of lines capture my hopes and thoughts for you and your girls this Christmas. Bono sings, I wish you a hopeful Christmas, I wish you a brave new year!

  • Gema

    Dear Jennie,
    Thanks for sharing. Lots of hugs and my best wishes to you and your girls. I keep on reading each post even If I do not leave a message each time. I can hardly find the words (and you find always the right ones!) 😉
    Every time I cook something special or bake with my children I remind me of you. An instant perhaps but you are in my mind reminding me the importance of enjoying and celebrate life.

  • Kim ~ Recipes To Run On

    Jennie, I’ve only recently discovered your blog and I just love it. I’ve just added it to my favorites page. I’m anxious to try your delicious sounding recipes soon. Your writing is so powerful. I cannot imagine what this Christmas is like for you. But I pray that you are covered in peace and love. All the best to you. Blessings to you in 2012.

  • patty reed

    my gosh.. you always amaze me. I hug you back. i wish i had the strength you do. I truly do. I love reading your posts and the feelings they immediately bring up. Thank you for that. Enjoy the dreams with your husband.

  • Sarah

    Jennie, thank you for sharing how you are doing and all your awesome recipes! I just read this one last night and was shocked to see Good Pasture’s mentioned, I was diagnosed with it in 2004 and no one I mentioned it to had ever heard of it!! Personally, when they told me, I asked why it was called that, as there is really nothing good about it. You and your daughters are in my thoughts and prayers!!! Please keep the great recipes coming, I too find comfort in cooking, and you really are an inspiration!!!

  • E

    Love to you, Jennie. I know this is incredibly late, but I am just discovering your wonderful blog and learning about your loss. Know that I have added you and your girls to my thoughts. The people we love and lose are always with us. Hug each other, and know that your husband is forever there in those joyful embraces!

  • Jesi

    God Bless You Jennie! Though I just found this today by odd chance of seeing the picture of these donuts Im so glad I did, this post brought tears and smiles to me. God bless you and your girls