While growing up, recipe developer and cookbook author Hetal Vasavada had many family members who worked at Dunkin’ Donuts. This meant that instead of boxes of Indian desserts known as mithai for the annual festival of Diwali, they’d celebrate with boxes of doughnuts. The family favorite? The chain’s Toasted Coconut cake doughnut, whose popularity Hetal credits to coconut’s common presence in Indian confections.
This recipe combines those memories with another of her favorite mithai: coconut barfi, also known as kopra pak, a fudge-like sweet made with coconut, cardamom, milk, and sugar. Borrowing from both traditions, these baked (not fried!) doughnuts boast a rich coconut milk batter spiced with fragrant cardamom and nutmeg. Soft on the inside with just enough texture from the toasted shredded coconut on the outside, these cakey treats more than justify the purchase of a specialty doughnut pan.
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GLAZE AND ASSEMBLY
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 425°. Lightly coat pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Whisk ⅓ cup (66 g) granulated sugar, 3 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. (44 g) light brown sugar, 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, 2½ Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature, 1 tsp. baking powder, ¼ tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, ¼ tsp. ground cardamom, and ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg in a large bowl. Add 1 large egg, 1 large egg yolk, 1⅓ cups unsweetened coconut milk, ½ tsp. vanilla extract and whisk again to combine. Working in 3 additions, fold in 1¾ cups plus 5 tsp. (233 g) all-purpose flour with a rubber spatula until no lumps or dry streaks remain.
Spoon batter into a reusable pastry bag or resealable plastic bag and cut off tip or 1 corner to make a ½" opening. Pipe batter into prepared pan filling each well about three quarters full. Tap pan onto counter 2 or 3 times to eliminate any air bubbles, then use a spoon to smooth surface of each doughnut.
Bake doughnuts until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 9–11 minutes. Let doughnuts cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
GLAZE AND ASSEBLY
Toast 1⅓ cups unsweetened shredded coconut in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden, 3–5 minutes (keep an eye on it because once the coconut starts to brown, it can quickly become burnt). Transfer to a shallow bowl or dish and set aside.
Whisk 1⅓ cups (147 g) powdered sugar, ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk, and ¼ tsp. ground cardamom in a shallow bowl until no lumps remain. Whisk in water 1 Tbsp. at a time if glaze is too thick.
While doughnuts are still slightly warm and working one at a time, dip into glaze, making sure to coat entirely, then place in bowl with shredded coconut to coat one side. Turn over and coat on other side. Return to rack as you go. Let doughnuts sit 10–15 minutes before serving.
Do ahead: Doughnuts can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
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Enjoyed. Spice was mild but flavorful. Developed more overnight but by then the coconut crust softened so texture was lost. Best to eat fresh after giving time to cool. I used a silicone donut mold. I think metal would help with texture also.
Los Angeles, CA