International Donut Day – 2021

Image courtesy of Doughnut Plant

Happy International Donut Day! The first Friday of every June is always a fun day and gives me even more reason to splurge on my favorite treats. In the past, it was a day where Jason and I would order our weights in donuts to bring to our office for our amazing team at work. The past two years have felt a little different and while I still make sure to snag a few sweets myself, I miss the energy of walking into work with several dozen donuts and watching my co-workers gaze in amazement at all the assorted flavors.

It was always a great day that we’d always somehow forget to plan until the night before when we’d wildly place orders from our favorite spots around the city. In a remote work world, that joy has been missing, so today I’m going to share my favorite spots around the city that I hope to make more frequent trips to as the pandemic begins to come to an end.

Doughtnut Plant
The best in the city, in my opinion, for your go-to classic cake donuts. This place has been a staple since they opened their first spot back in 1994 and they continue to lead the way for NYC’s premiere donuts. Their yeast and creme brulee filled donuts are also not to miss and their unique sourdough donuts is a great option as well.

Dun-Well Doughnuts
This joint opened in East Williamsburg almost a decade ago and has been serving up some stunning vegan options ever since. Their daily menu doesn’t consist of as many wild flavors as they did in their early years, but you can’t go wrong with any of their usual options. You’d also never know they’re vegan if I hadn’t told you myself.

Doughnut Project
A new-comer to the Manhattan scene in the past few years, this spot has raised the bar on specialty, very Instagram-worthy donuts that taste just as good as they look. Often when a donut is glammed out, it can sacrifice the flavor in order for appearance, but Doughnut Project is the best of both worlds.

Fan-Fan Doughnuts
The best thing to come out of the Pandemic, donuts and probably otherwise, has been Fan-Fan opening up shop in the old Dough spot in Brooklyn. These unique flavors might be the best yeast options in the city and their rising popularity has earned them respect throughout the food scene in the city. Believe the hype on this one!

Donut Pub
It doesn’t get more classic than this spot. Open 24/7 on 14th Street in Manhattan, Donut Pub is the quintessential old-school place in the city. The countertop is perfect for a quick bite and their traditional flavors always knock it out of the park. The vibes here are unbeatable and the vintage New York charm never wears off.

Donut Wars: Battle of the Brooklyn Blackout

Dough’s Brooklyn Blackout (via Instagram)

After closing their doors before the pandemic hit, OG donut joint Dough finally re-opened in their hometown borough. Just a few blocks from their original location (now the home of Fan-Fan), the new location is a cute spot that has some old school charm with modern twists. Of course it’s hard to get the full picture of just what they envision for this location as COVID precautions still force them to only offer take away service for now, but the interior is still warm and inviting with a killer spot on Vanderbilt Ave. full of heavy foot traffic (especially with it blocked off to cars).

Along with the brand new storefront, they’ve introduced a special new donut to mark the occasion. The Brooklyn Blackout is a chocolate explosion and an absolute monster of a donut. Their traditional massive treat is made with chocolate dough and filled with a chocolate mousse that is ultra sweet and creamy. Think a jelly or Boston Creme, but pure chocolate overload. On top is a smooth chocolate frosting and chocolate crumbs to top it off. An overpowering and overwhelming sensation that is almost impossible to eat with just your bare hands.

However what’s most striking about the donut isn’t just its size and excessive features, but the direct comparison to another donut from longtime competitor Doughnut Plant.

Doughnut Plant’s Brooklyn Blackout (via Instagram)

For years, Dough and Doughnut Plant have been the reigning champs of the New York City donut scene. They seem to not only have the most consistent hold on locations throughout the city, but they also dominate the coffee shop and fine food scenes as well. For those who read this blog regularly, you should know that our devotion to the original blackout from Doughnut Plant has been a longtime favorite here, but there is a special history to Dough and the legacy of both these chains that make this saga feel extra compelling.

It seems a bit out of character to see Dough make a direct replica of Doughnut Plant’s long-term favorite. Everything down to the name itself is a direct copy. Dough’s donuts have always felt a bit intense for me, personally, and they’re always best split amongst friends or family as to get a variety of flavors vs one massive donut, so I appreciate and really value Doughnut Plant’s size and proportions.

Dough’s yeast version, while exciting, is probably best in small portions that can be shared vs the smaller, traditional option from their rival. For me, Doughnut Plant takes the cake on this one.

Score:
Doughnut Plant: 10/10
Dough: 7/10

Fan-Fan’s Chocolate Doughnut Festival

Rising sensation Fan-Fan Doughnuts in Bed-Stuy has been getting some very well deserved attention since opening this past fall and this week, they launched what they’ve billed is their first chocolate doughnut festival. Exclusively using Guittard Chocolate, the city’s best new donut shop crafted eighteen (18!) different donuts inspired from different countries and cuisines from around the world. Naturally, I couldn’t miss it. I even used a vacation day from work to be sure I could attend on the first day!

Fan-Fan always has some of the best artisanal flavors you’re sure to find in New York and their beasts of yeast are some of the best of their kind and they’re always topped with sensational toppings and flavors. Of course, the chocolate festival was no exception and perhaps spawned some of the best ones yet!

The line was already tens of people deep by the time I arrived around noon on Tuesday and anticipation was mounting. The shop is still take-out and delivery only and the majority of the space is reserved for making the donuts so capacity is extremely limited and given the insane variety of donuts, ordering was not speedy. However, the staff was sharp, patient, and more than willing to make suggestions on what to order all while providing a safe experience for those inside.

With such an overwhelming selection, I tried to slim down my order as much as possible, but was nevertheless blown away with my choices. France (chocolate eclair), Spain (churros and chocolate), Brazil (brigadeiro), United Kingdom (sticky toffee), and Argentina (alfajor) were all phenomenal and unique. The aroma upon opening the lid of the box was rich in cocoa and sweetness and it wafted with freshness. Everything was also still warm as I exited the shop. It’s a bit of a sensory overload to devour so much chocolate, but the spectrum of flavor was actually remarkable. While the presentation is stunning, perhaps the best in the city in my opinion, the taste is also out of this world. The vanilla dough was a perfect vessel for the toppings and they’re ever so slightly smaller than their Dough counterparts making the size just about perfect. Every bite was finger licking good as the chocolate melted onto my hands with each sticky, delicious bite.

Fan-Fan is the new shop on the block and pandemic story for the ages. To support a new, small business during such a difficult time is always exciting, but Fan-Fan makes the dream come true.

The Good Witch x Doughnut Plant

Doughnut Plant

One of my favorite coffee spots in the NYC suburbs is The Good Witch in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. It has a great location in the Hastings Metro-North train station (although having the MTA as a landlord seems not that fun), nice views of the Hudson River, and in the warmer months, live music on Saturdays. It also offers a spicy egg sandwich (mini frittata, your choice of cheddar or American cheese and hot sauce on a pretzel bun) that is truly out of this world.

So I was thrilled to learn recently that The Good Witch is selling donuts from NYC’s own Doughnut Plant. “The Plant” as I often call it with Marc was a regular stop for me on my pre-pandemic commute (the location in the basement of Grand Central was way too convenient), so being able to get Doughnut Plant donuts again has been really special. The Good Witch has been carrying classic Plant flavors like Brooklyn Blackout, Black & White, Tres Leches and Wile Blueberry.

I’m really grateful for this awesome mashup of some of my favorite spots!

Header image credit: Doughnut Plant Facebook page

An ode to apple cider donuts

Apple cider donuts

Growing up in the Midwest, I never really had apple cider. I suppose we had “fall vibes,” but I never really experienced apple picking and orchard culture until I moved to New York.

After transplanting to NYC, I began the annual trek to the orchards in Westchester County and farther north, during which we filled mesh bags with apples because, well, we drove over an hour and paid to do so. While it was fun, I wasn’t feeling the same joy as my peers.

A few years later, I moved to the northern suburbs of NYC, and as part of the move, became familiar with Stew Leonard’s, a grocery store chain in CT, NY and NJ. There, I experienced apple cider donuts for the first time. At Stew’s, they make their apple cider donuts in the stores and in front of customers, and you used to be able to snag a tasty free sample (a true pre-COVID joy).

Stew’s famously does the apple cider donut to perfection – it’s a classic cinnamon sugar donut using fresh apple cider (that they also make) in the batter. The perfect specimen stays light with strong apple flavor throughout, but it’s a delicate balance – too little cider and you can’t differentiate the output from a cinnamon sugar; too much and the resulting donut is way too wet, and the sugar coating gets clumpy.

While the major chains like Dunkin’ have tried to produce apple cider donuts, they rarely stand out because they’re just not fresh enough. My favorites are local offerings like Stew’s and orchard offerings like those at Outhouse Orchards in North Salem, NY. Most farmers’ markets in the suburbs also feature some local bakery or orchard selling their take on the apple cider donut, usually in a wonderfully greasy paper bag.

Now, many years later, my fall trips to the NY orchards are much more fulfilling. While I still fill the mesh bag with apples, I also hunt down and try each spot’s take on the apple cider donut. Some are great, some are meh, but the fall donut vibes are always worth it.

Cover image: Apple cider donuts from Outhouse Orchards in North Salem, NY

North Fork Doughnut Company – Cereal Killer

Throughout the summer, Long Island’s North Fork Doughnut Company has been partnering with Sail Away Coffee for local deliveries around the area and even into the five boroughs (well, at least to Brooklyn). Pairing six canned coffees with six fresh donuts is a hard combo to pass-up and I usually jump at the chance to place an order for the weekend.

NoFoDoCo specializes in big, craft, artisanal donuts that do a great job of combining classic flavors with fun new inventions. Everything from classic glazed, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, to things a bit more adventurous like Samoa, Boston Creme, and Black Raspberry Jelly to new extremes like Tiramisu, Brown Sugar Bacon Pecan, and Pop Tart populate their menu, which changes on a weekly basis. The yeast beasts are quite filling and while not as dense as cake donuts, they’re more filling and packed full of flavor.

The Cereal Killer was a real highlight this go around. Covered in a strong vanilla frosting and then topped with a ton of Fruity Pebbles, it had wonderful textures and a perfect amount of sweetness. Despite its size and volume, it wasn’t too overwhelming and managed to leave me feeling perfectly full (I still tried the others). The crunch of the cereal was the perfect added bonus (something that Donut Pub here in NYC also nails exquisitely) and really enriched the entire experience. Each bite had the perfect amount of cereal and the vanilla icing held them nicely in place to prevent a mess with each mouthful. Even with a name like Cereal Killer, this one won’t destroy the roof of your mouth, but leave you wanting more.

Cereal Killer – 9/10

Hole in One Bakery – Cape Cod, MA

Let’s be honest, Cape Cod is known for lots of great food and as a native New Englander, my memories of visiting the Cape are mostly filled with lobster and clam chowder. Returning as an adult these days, it’s become quite apparent to me that local donut shops (that are specifically NOT Dunkin’ Donuts) are hard to come by the further you head out down the Cape. However, Hole in One Bakery is a local mini-chain (of sorts) that offers up some delicious baked goods and proves to be a solid option for donuts when in a pinch.

With a few locations up and down the Cape, I popped in to their Eastham joint just before closing to snag their remaining options for the day. This spot lands on the classic, old fashioned style donuts spectrum, but they do seem to have more crafty, artisanal options during the day that I was bummed to have missed. I went straight for their Cinnamon Sugar donut and it was delicious, old-time delight. Wonderfully chewy dough brought home the old school charm and it was beautifully dusted in a cinnamon sugar powder that enhanced every bite. Perfectly coated, excess powder never fell off the donut or covered my mouth, which is always a great highlight when enjoying this style. Their plain option was rather dry and not too flavorful, but would probably be best paired with a hot cup of coffee (not really my vibe). Even at the end of the day, the cinnamon sugar tasted amazingly fresh and was a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

The local charm of the shop and ability to nail a classic was enough to satisfy me and leave me intrigued for future visits.

An Ode to the Boston Creme

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved Boston Creme donuts. Growing up in suburban Massachusetts, I ordered them regularly when either of my parents would take me to Dunkin’ Donuts and they’ve remained a favorite of mine for nearly thirty years. However, with the rise of craft, artisanal donuts around the city, classic flavors like the Boston Creme are often replaced with interesting combinations or new, wild flavors. So, while I do like to be adventurous and even though I prefer cake donuts to yeast, I still order this classic whenever I can.

Jason has referred to this as my “suburb order” and, for reasons mentioned above, that feels pretty spot on. It’s my go-to when we hit up Donut Delight in Connecticut or Dunkin’ when I go back to see my parents and while I definitely associate it with more casual experiences, there are spots in the city where the Boston Creme is worth your money.

Yes, a lot of the hip spots like Du’s or Doughnut Plant offer some truly remarkable treats (the later serves my current favorite), but there is still a special place in heart for the cream filled concoction. Peter Pan (in Greenpoint and pictured above) and Donut Pub (on 14th Street and Astor Place) have two of the best in the city and Doughnut Project’s version (aptly called a Manhattan Creme) is also rather remarkable. Dun-Well makes one as well, but I do think this is the one time where the vegan twist slightly harms the quality of the cream.

Trying new creations will always fuel my hunger for donuts and I love tasting all of these new varieties that pop-up over the city, but the nostalgia for a Boston Creme will always tug at my heart strings. It’s hard to give up your first love.

🍩 🏳️‍🌈 Pride Donuts 🏳️‍🌈 🍩

Today would’ve been the Pride Parade in New York City. However, like the rest of the world, it was cancelled due to COVID-19. Still, there are some things that just can’t be cancelled, and this is one of them because Pride is not just a parade, but a movement, a way of life, and so much more. Doughnut Plant still made their monthly special the Raspberry Pride donut so today I made sure to pick one up.

According to their website, “a Doughnut Plant tradition since 1997. Special handmade triangle shaped yeast doughnut with a fresh raspberry glaze and all-natural rainbow stripes! We first made this doughnut back in 1997, when Mark sold them at the Gay Pride Parade in front of Eureka Joe on Fifth Avenue, one of the first shops to sell our doughnuts.”

Last year, I bought every Pride donut in the Chelsea location and brought them to work to kick-off our celebration. I desperately wish I could do that again right now. Being your true self is always important not only at work, but in life as well, and nothing helps us remind ourselves of this quite like Pride. Be yourself, be proud, wear a mask, and eat a donut! Happy Pride, everyone!

North Fork Doughnut Company

It is currently a challenge to find new donut spots. While I’m so happy to have Dun-Well Doughnuts and Doughnut Plant, my forever go-tos, operating in my neighborhood, the quest for new discoveries has been stalled. So, when I saw that Sail Away Coffee was partnering with a local Long Island shop, North Fork Doughnut Company, for an incredible weekend delivery of six cans of nitro cold brew and six donuts DELIVERED, I couldn’t resist.

While working from home, Jason and I have been hunting for the best canned cold brew options since our afternoon coffee runs were immediately cancelled. Sail Away’s Nitro Cold Brew has been a big hit and it felt like a no-brainer to indulge in this new offering. Delivery options are for weekends only and orders cannot be customized, but an assortment of random donuts is never a bad thing. The six flavors included in my order were: Vanilla OG, Jelly, Salted Caramel, Cookies N Creme, Maple Bacon, White Chocolate Raspberry (although I believe they change it up each weekend).

My order arrived promptly Friday morning with a box of (still cold) canned cold brew and a giant pink box of donuts handed to me by a super friendly delivery driver. You can also track your delivery via an app so you know your ETA and can plan your day around the drop-off time.

The donuts themselves are big, yeast cakes with super sweet toppings that add the perfect balance to the chewy dough and while intense, are not overpowering in flavor. The unsweetened Nitro Cold Brew also cuts the sweetness perfectly with its bitter taste. These feel and taste like classic yeast donuts with an excellent consistency in each bite. They’re dense, but they’re not epic in size so consumption doesn’t leave you in a food coma.

I miss visiting stores and admiring the aesthetics and vibes of donut shops around New York City and beyond. I miss going to them with my friends. However, I’ve been excited to find new ways to discover and enjoy my favorite treats and hope to make more exciting orders in the future.