Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Brunch Bets: Doughnut Plant

There's few things better than freshly made doughnuts in the morning, and while I don't typically make it a habit of enjoying them too often, I thought it particularly prudent to feature the doughnuts of New York City's Doughnut Plant. Owner Mark Israel takes doughnuts seriously. Just how seriously? Well, he starts by using the same recipe developed by his grandparents before incorporating the freshest seasonal ingredients into his batters and glazes.

I recently stopped by the newly opened Chelsea branch to sample a few new flavors as well as some old favorites. Although its just the second Manhattan location, I can proudly say that I've now enjoyed Doughnut Plant in three different countries: the U.S., Japan and South Korea. But regardless of origin, all locations offer the same delicious yeast and cake doughnuts. Although many friends enjoy the classic yeast doughnuts, in my opinion, its the cake doughnuts that are truly special.

The seasonal flavors are great, but I prefer the classics, with my favorite being the precious Crème Brûlée Doughnut. They say big things come in small packages and this seems particularly true with this doughnut. What the crème brûlée lacks in size, it more than makes up for in taste, as the soft yeast doughnut hides a custard center and sports a wonderfully brûléed exterior just like the namesake dessert.

Chocolate lovers need not look further than the Blackout Doughnut which consists of a chocolate cake doughnut that is filled with chocolate, and is covered in chocolate icing and a chocolate crumble.

Not being the most ardent chocoholic, I often seek out something unique. Israel's Carrot Cake Doughnut always hits the spot, taking the quintessential flavor profiles of carrot cake - raisins, nuts and spices - and putting them inside a doughnut. But its the swirl of cream cheese frosting inside that really makes this doughnut complete.

Inspired by the popular Mexican dessert, the Tres Leches Doughnut is another personal favorite and remains the most succulent variety. Sweetened with condensed milk and a light glaze, the moist cake doughnut manages to remain great even after several days.

Doughnut Plant even managed to update the classic Jelly-Filled Doughnut. Instead of a round doughnut with an amorphous blob of jelly in the center, this doughnut is square-shaped with a ring of house-made jelly that is then piped into it, ensuring each bite contains the perfect doughnut-to-jelly ratio.

My trip to the Chelsea location netted me some new flavors as well. The seasonal Fresh Strawberry Doughnut was so popular that it sold out in the cake variety, forcing me to settle for a single yeast doughnut. As with all the fruit flavored doughnuts, Israel uses real fruit directly into the glaze, maximizing the fresh flavor.

Another new flavor was the Oatmeal Doughnut. A deceptively simple looking cake doughnut that looked as if it just took a shower in rolled oats. This was full of surprises. Studded throughout were bits of nuts and dried fruit that when combined with sweet rolled oats, combined to form something unexpectedly amazing.

Not quite as successful was the Salty Peanut Doughnut. Perhaps my expectations were too high, and while certainly not bad...it wasn't nearly as exciting as the other flavors. Unsurprisingly, it tasted like salty peanuts.

Better was the Toasted Sesame Doughnut. Particularly good for those who enjoy the nutty flavor of sesame, this was right in my wheelhouse as it was vaguely reminiscent of Asian desserts I've come to enjoy.

But doughnuts aren't only meant to be enjoyed during the warm months as I've made it a habit of bringing a box home for my family during the holidays. The overwhelming favorite being the Cranberry Doughnut. The tartness of the cranberry helped temper the sweetness of the doughnut, preventing it from becoming overwhelming.

Another winner was the Pomegranate Doughnut which had been dunked in a pomegranate glaze and was peppered with fresh pomegranate kernels. The interplay between the pomegranate infused glaze, pomegranate kernels and the pillowy soft yeast doughnut is a crave-worthy seasonal treat.

Good but not great was the Banana Pecan Doughnut. What sounded so good turned disappointing, as the banana pecan flavor was somewhat lost in its doughnut form.

The only real dud of the bunch was the Marzipan Doughnut. A yeast doughnut, marzipan is an almond-flavored confection that often is molded into something that looks better than it actually tastes. Unfortunately, the doughnut was no exception, as it lacked the flavor of the others.

Though I don't claim to be a doughnut connoisseur, I've eaten enough of these breakfast goodies to know something special when I taste it, and Doughnut Plant offers just that. Original flavors made with pristine ingredients enjoyed worldwide make these doughnuts some of my favorite and a perfect brunch bet.

Doughnut Plant
379 Grand Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 505-3700


To see all the pictures from this meal click HERE.

Doughnut Plant on Urbanspoon

Doughnut Plant on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Two things:

    1. No one likes the yeast donuts at Doughnut Plant.

    2. How do you leave a tres leches donut around "for days" before eating it?