A Simple Bourbon Glaze Takes Classic Donuts Up A Few Notches

If you've ever been to a spirit tasting, an expert guide will peel back the harsh, often overpowering taste of alcohol to reveal a world of unique subtle flavors. Bourbon's diverse tasting notes range from nuts and fruit to baking spices and sweets, making it the perfect candidate for dessert recipes. A donut glaze is a simple recipe that bourbon will take to rich and complex heights.

You can incorporate bourbon into donut glaze by either reducing it over the stove or adding a splash to cold glaze and whisking to combine. A cold glaze is quicker and easier to make by whisking powdered sugar, milk, and bourbon. Since you won't be cooking the bourbon, a cold glaze needs only a splash to infuse it with flavor. Furthermore, a cold glaze will not mask the alcoholic bite as much as a cooked glaze. That said, you can bring out bourbon's underlying tasting notes by pairing it with a dash of vanilla or almond extract.

Reducing a glaze over the stove is a great way to enhance bourbon's more subtle flavors by burning off the strong alcoholic flavor. You will need much more bourbon for a stovetop glaze; whereas a cold glaze needs one or two tablespoons of bourbon per cup of confectioner sugar, a stovetop glaze will take around a half-cup per cup of sugar. A reduction glaze will have a more caramelized taste, which happens to be a prominent tasting note for bourbon.

Bourbon glaze tips and flavor pairings

Bourbon is a complex ingredient that'll take a simple glaze to the next level all by itself, but you can manipulate a bourbon glaze with the type of bourbon you choose. If you're using bourbon in a glaze, you should opt for a mid-tier bottle and save the expensive, aged stuff for sipping neat. Tasting Table has a guide for the best types of bourbon to use when baking, with plenty of tasting note descriptions that you can match with the flavors in a donut. If you want to add a spicy kick to a simple donut glaze, Bulleit Bourbon is the high-intensity option you seek. A smoky, sweet bourbon would make a great substitute for vanilla in a simple, cold glaze. You can always add more vanilla for mutual benefit by using this glazed donut recipe.

Ingredient swaps and additions will also help bourbon work its magic in a glaze. For example, you could use brown sugar or maple syrup in a glaze reduction to enhance the sweet notes in bourbon and the richness of the glaze as a whole. Bring out the baking spice notes in a bourbon glaze with a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom. You could also add cream cheese to a bourbon glaze for a creamier texture and a tangy finish. Bourbon is a popular addition to pecan pie, so you could add butter and bourbon to your glaze, then top a freshly glazed donut with toasted pecans.