Archive for the 'donuts' Category

20
May
13

Which donuts are worth the hardened arteries? Brunch at Golden Brown Delicious.

Golden Brown Delicious is one of the latest restaurants in DC to offer the crowd-pleasing fried-chicken-donut combo. One of the chefs  behind GBD is pastry maestro Tiffany MacIsaac of Birch & Barley.  So I was looking forward to tasting her handiwork.

Every bite of this donut includes the perfect key lime curd.

Every bite of this donut includes the perfect key lime curd.

The star of our meal was the key lime curd brioche donut, thanks to its mouth-puckering filling. I have a hard time finding lemon/lime desserts that meet my stringent tartness requirements. This one did.

Mr X-sXe was particularly interested in the tres leches donut. He’d gotten addicted to the same flavor at Doughnut Plant in NYC, where the tres leches had literally left him speechless the first time he bit into one. Although it wasn’t bad, GBD’s version didn’t live up to that gold standard: it needed more filling to balance out the dryness of this cake donut.

While too treacly for my taste, the glaze on the bourbon butterscotch brioche donut was a nice foil to the saltiness of the bacon. This one’s for die-hard fans of salty-sweet concoctions.

Assortment of donuts from Golden Brown Delicious in Washington, DC.

Clockwise from left to right: the tres leches, bourbon butterscotch with bacon, and key lime curd.

My one regret is that we didn’t try the passionfruit flavor while we were there. The lady at the register mentioned it was one of her favorites.

PS: If a restaurant’s fried chicken leaves you pining for Popeye’s, it probably shouldn’t be one of the headliners. Unfortunately, there was nothing remarkable about the bird here. Fortunately, the creamed kale and biscuit sides rescued the savory part of the meal from bland-ville.

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10
Feb
13

Donutz hit the District

Zeke’s Donutz had its soft opening recently in the old Dupont Circle Tangysweet space (spoils from my weekend visit pictured below). Meanwhile, Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken is due to open any day now in Metro Center, after a few pop-up events at Chinatown Coffee where their goods sold out quickly. Apparently I’m not the only sucker willing to pony up $2.50+ for a donut.

The haul from Zeke's Donutz

Clockwise, from top left: Mexican chocolate, creme brulee, passionfruit, salted caramel, and lemon curd.

It seems that DC’s finally gotten on the gourmet donut bandwagon, and not a minute too soon for us sugar addicts looking for (cup)cake and pie alternatives. I’ve been dying for a good donut place ever since visiting the fried-dough mecca that is Doughnut Plant in NY. So it’s reassuring to know that more places are popping up where one can get a gourmet donut to take out (besides Palena Market).

We try 5 flavors from Zeke's Donutz.

We taste-tested the donuts by splitting them into fourths. The winner was the lemon curd (the one with the powdered sugar).

When I stopped by Zeke’s, they mentioned their official opening might be delayed because there was still work to be done on converting the space (I figured, since the Tangysweet sign is still in the window). So check their Facebook page for daily opening times. The guys at Zeke’s were super helpful in helping me choose from the 10+ flavors. In the end, I got 3 filled (creme brulee, Mexican chocolate, lemon curd) and 2 glazed (salted caramel, passionfruit).

Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

Another gourmet donut place, Astro Doughnuts, is coming to DC in February 2013 (hopefully).

If you can only try one donut at Zeke’s–your willpower is admirable–I’d go with a filled option. The lemon curd was the favorite among my friends, the curd nicely balancing tartness with a custard-y texture. The creme brulee was a close second. The glazed flavors needed more glaze or filling to help balance out the doughiness. It was like eating a cupcake with too little icing on top. Don’t get me wrong–the glazes were very good, down to the flakes of salt on the caramel, and the authentic tang of the passionfruit. I just needed more of it given the overall size of the donut.

Update, February 18: Another donut-and-chicken place is open in Dupont, with donuts brought to you by Birch & Barley pastry chef, Tiffany MacIsaac. Check out GBD here.

04
Dec
12

Sweet streets of NY, Day 3: More Donut Gluttony, and a Gourmet Take on Hostess

These may be some of the best donuts ever to cross your lips. Starting at 9 o’clock: the coconut cream, pistachio, creme brulee, and tres leches.

Doughnut Plant, Chelsea store

Smitten with the Doughnut Plant cake donuts we tried at the Stumptown Coffee pastry case, we decided to head to the mothership herself to see what other flavors we could stuff down our gullets. We ended up at the Chelsea location (there’s another one in the Lower East Side). The funny thing is that there’s a Dunkin’ not far from the store where you can get a donut for less than $1. But why would you do that when you can pay $3 for the best donut you’ve had in your life?

Glowing Sign at Doughnut Plant

The décor makes you feel like you’re entering a Willy Wonka donut factory. Donut pillows on the walls, donut tiles on the booths, and a giant, glowing donut menu. The only part that falls a bit short is the donut display itself, where a sample of each of the flavors of the day were crammed into a small glass case. You kind of want to see them in their full glory on platters, or at least in a bigger display case, lined up like soldiers.

On this visit we had the pistachio, coconut cream, crème brulee “doughseed” (mini-donut), and a reprise of the Tres Leches (at Mr. X-sXe’s insistence). Unlike the other cake donuts we’d tried, the pistachio didn’t have any filling, which meant it was somewhat dry and uninspiring. The crème brulee, the flavor that piqued my interest in the Doughnut Plant in the first place, was good but not as sublime as I’d built it up to be in my head. The coconut cream was generously filled and fluffy on the outside. Delicious as it was, it still couldn’t touch the blackout cake donut, which remains my favorite.

There are many, many options to maintain your sugar rush at Empire Cake.

Empire Cake, Chelsea

That night we met up with a friend, JDang, who suggested checking out Empire Cake, which she’d passed on her walk to meet us. It’s a charming shop (but what shop filled with cakes and pastries isn’t?) on 8th Avenue. Their specialty, apart from custom cakes, are their gourmet versions of greatest hits from the possibly-soon-extinct Hostess, like the Ho-Ho (Swiss roll), Snowball, and Twinkie.

Imitation is flattery: a homemade version of the Hostess Snowball surpasses the original.

We tried a pink Snowball. It tasted like a homemade, less artificial version of Hostess’ own, one that doesn’t make you wonder about the chemicals involved in making it shelf-stable. But to be honest, we went to Empire Cake post-dinner, post-donuts with food fatigue, so our taste buds were maxed out for the day. You just might have to go there to judge for yourself.

Related posts:

Sweet Streets of NY, Day 1 Spoils

Sweet streets of NY, Day 2: The Sugar Binge Continues

01
Dec
12

Sweet streets of NY, Day 2: The Sugar Binge Continues

DoughtnutPlant-Stumptown
A rundown of the sweets we tried during our second day in NYC:
One of the things that made our stay at the Ace Hotel memorable (helping to make up for our jail cell-sized room) was the Stumptown Coffee in the lobby. For a habitual tea drinker, their brew’s perfect because it’s pretty mild, at least to my untrained coffee palate. Anyway, this Stumptown location offers an impressive case of sweet accompaniments: French macarons, fruit tarts, cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar, and these Doughnut Plant cake donuts.
Stumptown carries 4 flavors: the tres leches and blackout became our breakfast staples for the duration of our stay. The first time Mr. X-sXe bit into one, he actually paused to contemplate what had just happened to his taste buds. They’re that good. Each donut has a thread of filling running through it: condensed milk in the tres leches; bittersweet chocolate cream in the blackout. Sounds like overload, but it’s not because these aren’t nearly as sweet as your typical glazed Krispy Kreme—by comparison they taste healthy.
MomofukuMilkBar_CerealSoftServe
Though this place is tinier than a Manhattan studio apartment, there’s a constant stream of customers demanding their cereal milk soft serve—even on a windy 40-degree day. If I were Christina Tosi, I’d be applying for some kind of trademark protection. The soft serve tastes like what’s left in your cereal bowl after you’ve fished out the last soggy Frosted Flake. It’s served up with cereal crumbles, what tasted like corn flakes to me. The soft serve flavor was too reminiscent of milk from the jug for my liking, but I guess that’s the point.
Left to right: the compost, chocolate marshmallow, and blueberries & cream cookies

Left to right: the compost, chocolate chip marshmallow, and blueberries & cream cookies

Cookies
The lady behind the counter at the Milk Bar explained that the compost, chocolate chip marshmallow, and blueberries & cream are their top-selling flavors. All are buttery, chewy cookies, but we enjoyed the chocolate marshmallow the most. The cookies held up nicely after a bus ride home and a couple days sitting on our kitchen counter. You can attempt the recipe for the compost cookies here or order all of the cookies flavors online here.
MomofukuMilkBar_CrackPieCrack pie
I’ve tried Momofuku’s towering cakes before, but this was my first time trying their pie. The funny thing about their pie slices is that they package them individually in cardboard sleeves. The crack pie reminds me of a cross between shoofly pie and crème brulee, with a strong molasses taste from the brown sugar.  Due to the ooey-gooey richness, it’s hard to enjoy more than a few bites of in one go, even for those of us with a fiendish sweet tooth. You’ll want a very bitter mug of coffee to go with this.
Related posts:
Day 3 preview: We make the holy pilgrimage to the actual Doughnut Plant store in Chelsea, then cap the night off at Empire Cake, where you can get homemade versions of those Hostess cakes that are on the brink of extinction.
11
Jul
12

Funky-flavored shakes: coffee and donuts, Vietnamese coffee

The donuts-and-coffee custard from Shake Shack. Nice concept, poor execution.

One of the rare Krispy Kreme pieces in this coffee-and-donuts custard.

This coffee-and-donuts custard from Shake Shack–ok, not technically a shake–is a total tease. Excited at the prospect of Krispy Kreme pieces in this custard (brought down fresh from the Dupont Circle Krispy Kreme), we bought the largest size and dug into it. But as you can see, it took a lot of squinting to locate the sparse pieces of donut. The coffee flavor was extremely muted. Not sure I would’ve identified it as coffee if you hadn’t told me.

Also, I’m not sure that cold donuts are all that. They get hard and greasy. What works for fried chicken, doesn’t for donuts.

The Vietnamese-coffee shake from Good Stuff Eatery.

This Vietnamese coffee shake is a vanilla-based shake with ground coffee and condensed milk. The grittiness of the coffee detracts from the experience. Stick with the tried-and-true toasted marshmallow shake!

The thing to get at Good Stuff (even more essential than the burgers or rosemary fries) is the toasted marshmallow shake. This time we branched out and tried the Vietnamese coffee. Good flavor, gross texture. Unless you like sand with your shakes. You may need a good flossing afterwards.

08
Aug
11

A waste of sugar?

To state the obvious, I have a sweet tooth whose daily demands must be met. Yet there are plenty of sweets that I can walk away from without a tinge of remorse. Here’s a rundown.

Fudge is the bastard child of chocolate
Ever made fudge? You add sugar, butter, and cream or milk to chocolate. Only in America would we find a way to make chocolate sweeter, fattier, and richer.
Another reason I’m not a fan: fudge with nuts. You know what that looks like. (Sorry, but at least I spared you the photo.)

Photo from musingfoodie.blogspot.com

Entenmann’s is delicious only if you’re 10
Actually, I’ve got a soft spot for their danishes, since as a kid, they were an exotic treat in a house dominated by Chinese food. But for nostalgia’s sake I tried a box of their “chocolate”-covered donuts a while back, which was like biting into cakey matter coated with candle wax. They’re so bad, I’d feel guilty about leaving them in the company kitchen.
Candy corn should have existential questions about why it was put on Earth
Pass out packets of these at Halloween if you want to see what dejection looks like. As a kid, when splitting your Halloween spoils into the “keeper” and “trade” piles, bet this was usually in the latter.
Hershey’s Chocolate Bar gives “American chocolate” a bad name
If you want quality chocolate, don’t eat this. Chocolate is #2 on the list of ingredients, after sugar. Hershey’s makes plenty of good stuff (Reese’s, Take 5, Peppermint Patties), but the classic chocolate bar isn’t one of them.
Black licorice, the Marmite of the candy world
A Danish friend who came to visit traveled with bags of black licorice, as if it was life-sustaining insulin that she couldn’t leave home without. Maybe, like Marmite, you develop a liking for it only if you were raised on it.

Photo from mochachocolatarita.blogspot.com

Obscure ethnic wildcard: mooncakes are proof that my people shouldn’t make desserts
Mooncakes are a seasonal tradition during the Mid-Autumn Festival, in a bunch of Asian countries. They’re basically a pastry shell wrapped around dense, sweet paste. Usually that paste is made of mung beans, but variations include fruit, sesame seeds, etc.
The thing that gets me is that to represent the full moon, there’s sometimes a salted egg yolk in the middle. Biting into one unexpectedly is slightly traumatic. This is why most Chinese people eat fruit after a meal, and why there’s a limited selection of desserts on a Chinese menu. Sweets aren’t our culinary strong suit.
20
May
11

Pork belly donuts. Do you dare?

Dear U Street Music Hall: Your pork belly donuts take the pig-product-as-dessert trend too far.

Yes, I’m a fan of chocolate-covered bacon, bacon Rice Krispy treats, and even bacon-fat cookies. So why must I draw the line? Because pork belly is 90%+ chewy (ok, delicious) fat. But putting pig products like bacon, for example, in desserts works best when the fat has been rendered off so you’re only left with the crispy meat. That’s why I don’t enjoy Vosges’ bacon bar—it’s like eating chocolate-bacon gum. Why would anyone want to wrap their lips around a donut sandwich with a sizeable chunk of fat in it, unless they were training for the 2012 Olympics?

Mind you, I haven’t actually tried these so I’m just railing against the concept. It could be that:

Mushy donut + chewy pork belly fat = mouthful of greasy yeastiness.

OR

Fluffy donut + luscious pork belly slice = salty-sweet heaven.

But I’m probably not brave enough to find out.