EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was first published on April 25, 2011.
“Arise ye nonconformist doughnuts,” said Anthony Bourdain when he visited Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon.
They have arisen, indeed, and they’re anything but ordinary.
Artisanal doughnut shops are firing up their fryers across the country, from Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop in New York City to Top Pot in Seattle to The Doughnut Vault in Chicago. Touting the highest-quality ingredients and hand-forged production, the sweet treat is vying for top billing.
In the process, they’ve done what no Krispy Kreme executive could have anticipated: doughnuts have gone extreme.
Forget toppings like simple sprinkles. Now there’s habanero pepper jelly with cream cheese (the Slow Burn at Gourdough's in Austin, Texas) and peanut butter glaze with bacon and banana (the Elvis at Ike & Jane in Atlanta, Georgia).
Voodoo Doughnut, the Portland, Oregon shop heralded by Bourdain, invited controversy after adding NyQuil and Pepto Bismol doughnuts to its menu. The potent pastries were immediately discontinued after a scolding by the FDA for putting medicine in food.
There’s still plenty of crazy concoctions on Voodoo’s menu, however, including the Arnold Palmer, a cake doughnut with vanilla frosting and lemonade-iced tea dust on top and the Grape Ape, a raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting, grape dust and lavender sprinkles. Their aptly named Maple Blazer Blunt is a raised doughnut rolled to resemble a cigar, with maple frosting and a realistic ember made of red sprinkles.
In New York City, Mark Israel just opened a second location of his Doughnut Plant, offering flavors like Tres Leches and Pistachio in a constantly rotating menu. At Dough Donuts in Brooklyn, Chocolate Chipotle joins other unique variations on the menu like Hibiscus, Chai Cream, Earl Gray, Blood Orange Glazed with Candied Orange, and Lemon Poppy Seed. On the other coast, San Francisco’s Dynamo Donut & Coffee is serving up Molasses Guinness Pear, Cornmeal Rosemary Cherry, and Lemon Sichuan flavors.
While we’re all for innovation, do extreme doughnuts distract from what doughnuts are meant to be: simple, soul-satisfying fried treats? What do you think: Are these wacky flavors fun, or messing with a good thing?
If you want to use your creative energy to make your own doughy treats at home, watch the video at the top of this post to see pastry chef Stephen Collucci at work. Warning: you may drool on yourself.