Peter Pan Donuts and Pastry Shop is a Greenpoint, Brooklyn institution known for their classic aesthetics and old-time vibes.
Unlike so many other up and coming artisanal shops that you’ll read about on this blog, Peter Pan sticks with tradition and it’s apparent from the moment you walk in to the shop. Trays of hand-dipped donuts line the trays behind the counter and the entire staff wears matching diner-esque attire. In a shop where tradition is key, I keep things simple and at Peter Pan, that means the red velvet. Deep-fried and hand dipped in delicious glaze, it’s a classic that leaves no room for mistakes. On the inside, the dough is soft and moist, begging to be torn apart to eat in small bites or to be shared amongst friends. The chocolatey goodness is light and never intense, a classic donut in the truest sense of the term. It’s simple, basic, and totally delicious. A staple that should be in ever rotation.
Chocolate Caramel Brownie from Du’s Donuts is a high-concept cake donut from the mastermind Wylie Dufresne.
A rather new player in the scene, Dufresne’s chic shop is a sleek, cash-only spot located in Williamsburg’s luxury William Vale Hotel and the donuts served up are not your averaged fried-up treat. Dufresne puts the same amount of hard work and science into these tasty treats as he does his other culinary creations and the passion comes through in each bite. The Chocolate Caramel Brownie is a rich experience, full of mouth-watering flavors in each bite. The dense cake is topped with crumbled brownie bits and drizzled in delectable caramel which results in an intense, but deeply satisfying treat. This is no light treat, but almost a full meal on its own.
When I was younger (I think around 10 years old), my Dad would go to a local bakery every Sunday morning to get donuts. It was always a dozen in a white cardboard box, and the two flavors I remember the most were chocolate frosted and jelly. I don’t know if they were high-quality, artisanal or good at all – I just knew that it was a tradition we did every Sunday that brought members of the family together.
Now, every Saturday morning, I have a similar tradition with my daughter. And even though I’ve had some of the best donuts in the world by working in New York City, we go to Dunkin’ Donuts. Why? It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s a tradition. Her favorite flavor is Boston Kreme, although she can be tempted by a seasonal flavor. I usually go with a classic jelly or sometimes a coffee roll if I want something more hearty. Are they the best-tasting donuts? Nope! But in this case, it’s not about having the best. It’s about the tradition of being together, of chatting in line, of discovering the latest seasonal flavor. It’s about how donuts can bring family members together.
The Black Gold (aka Brownie Batter) is a classic yeast donut and one of the regulars from The Doughnut Project
Doughnut Project serves up some of the best yeast donuts in the city. Their particular brand is a light and airy mix that feels both satisfying, but not quite too overpowering like some others in this variety. Taking a basic vanilla flavor of dough and topping it with rich, delicious chocolate and sea slat makes for a perfect combination. In addition to the molten chocolatey goodness, the treat is also topped with dark chocolate cookie crumbs and a dash of sea salt which heightens the flavor and takes it a step beyond your classic chocolate frosted donut. Despite the rather large size, the donut is perfectly delightful and hits the spot without leaving you too full – a perfect start to the day or late afternoon snack.
The Carrot Cake donut is a standard filled donut at Doughnut Plant.
Doughnut Plant has a wide range of classic cake and filled cake donuts which they’ve been churning out since the mid 90s. Carrot Cake, a rich, dense carrot cake donut with cream cheese filling, is not only a supreme example of such donut, but showcases their ability to combine remarkable texture with a delectable filling for an artisanal creation that is just as traditional as it is exploratory. The vanilla glaze, with bits of walnuts and carrots, pairs brilliantly with the slight spice of the cake which changes things up from the traditional vanilla or chocolate than tend to dominate the scene. It’s daring enough for one looking to expand their palette and still not a stretch beyond a modern classic.
The Strawberry Cake donut is the May 2019 Flavor of the Month at Doughnut Plant.
Like Doughnut Plant’s signature cake donut, the Strawberry is dense and moist. A darker cake makes up the body and gives a subtle and delectable taste, but with just a hint of the fruit flavor. The icing was a bit crunchy and flaked off by the time I got it out of the wax paper wrapping, but I appreciated the lightness in flavor. Not at all overwhelming, it actually left me hoping for something a bit more intense. Unlike some of their other classics, I didn’t see any actual use of the fruit in the donut which may have led to the lack of total flavor. Still, the consistency and texture was fantastic and satiating.
We’re two dudes who are passionate about donuts. So passionate that for the last year, we’ve made it a weekly tradition to try new flavors and old favorites from the best places in NYC. Now, we’re sharing our discoveries with you! Every week, we’ll share updates on the best donuts from NYC and beyond for your reading (and future eating) pleasure.