Plus: gel based food coloringI used pink and purple
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a donut pan with cooking spray, use a paper towel to lightly spread/remove excess spray.
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl combine the milk, egg, vanilla, and oil until well blended. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mix just until combined.
Transfer the batter to a large piping bag or use a ziploc bag with one corner cut off. Pipe the batter into the donut pan, filling each donut hole about 2/3 full.
Bake the donuts for 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the donuts sit in the pan for 10 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool.
Remove the donuts from the donut pan and place them on a wire rack to cool.
Base icing for the donuts
Melt 1/3 cup of each color candy melts with the vegetable shortening in separate bowls. I like to microwave the candy melts on 50% power for 2 minutes, stirring every 20-30 seconds, until they are melted.
For dipping the donuts, it’s easiest to transfer the melted chocolate to a small shallow dish, but large enough to fit a donut in. While hanging onto the edges of the donut, dip each donut into the chocolate and pause for a few seconds while the donut is upside down to allow to excess to fall off. Allow the donuts to cool on a cooling rack completely before adding hand drawn details.
Combine the powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water in a small mixing bowl and mix on low speed with an electric mixer until the icing has a matte appearance, about 3-5 minutes.
Divide the royal icing into a few small bowls, depending on how many colors you want. Be sure to leave some of the royal icing white, if you’d like.
Begin to decorate the donuts as you desire. I found it easiest to transfer the icing to a small squeeze bottle to add the details. I chose to do one donut of each design: xoxo, dots, love with hearts, all hearts, multi-colored lines, and single colored cross hatched lines.
Surprise your Valentine with the donuts and put the leftover in an air tight container.