This year I ate donuts. Just a whole mess of them. They sort of became my thing, a coping mechanism for an increasingly uncertain world. I actually thought about why I like donuts more than other dessert pastries and perhaps I’ll write a more thorough post about that some day. For the purposes of this article though, I like to rely on the Miami New Times description: “Doughnuts could be the most democratic of all foods.” And what scarlet-blooded flag-waving American doesn’t like Democracy?
So here we are at the end of 2016, a year that basically nobody can get behind for various reasons. As I coped along with you all with my favorite pastry, I had a lot of time to think about the donuts I preferred and why. I’ll recall some of my favorite donuts from this year and discuss what beverage pairs best with each. Here we go!
Pistachio Donut, Chaps in Charlottesville VA
Beverage Pairing: Whole Milk served Chilled
Starting this article off with my favorite, most memorable donut from the whole year.
While visiting downtown Charlottesville VA on a weekend getaway with friends, Chaps was a random choice I made in lieu of going to a more expensive chocolatier a few stores down that my friends were excited for. The establishment felt more like a diner than an ice cream shop, despite clearly being an ice cream shop. As I review their online menu now you don’t even see donuts listed, which isn’t really surprising.
What was great about this pistachio donut was simply that it was your typical cake donut but with whole pistachios baked *inside* the donut. Here, let me show you.
They also had a really delightful coconut that was very light. But the pistachio is more near and dear to me, and whole nuts still made it the more exciting find. It’s hard to top the surprise of a simple donut done well from a place where it’s not even their specialty.
This donut would pair nicely with a glass of whole milk served chilled, perhaps even on the rocks.
Everything Donut, B Donuts in Hampden, Baltimore, MD
Beverage Pairing: Milk, 3.5 percent fat at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit
I have friends that live in Hampden, and thank God I do because I got to experience the greatness that was B Donut there. I woke up early the morning after a night out to be 4th in line at a shop that is known to sell out quickly. We actually got quite a few donuts to split. The cronut, which they called a doughssant, and the sweet filled donuts were all great, with The Homer Simpson tribute donut with pink icing and sprinkles being the best. But the experience of an Everything Donut was the most memorable.
Dessert gimmicks are great, and there’s nothing better than the dessert gimmick of one thing emulating another (see cronut or cake pops or doffles or croclaires) so why the hell not emulate a non-dessert breakfast item. This actually would have been over the top awesome if B donut had simply chosen Everything topping that didn’t include salt. The savoriness of garlic and onion and what have you paired with the cream cheese based filling were enough to offset the dough’s sweetness. Adding salt was a bit garish. That said it’s an experience not worth passing up if you’re bothering to go here, they do a fantastic job on a novelty mash-up item during times that we’re running out of items to mash up.
Despite usually having Everything bagels with a nice iced coffee, I’d probably have this one with a nice tall glass of whole milk. Definitely avoid warm milk for this donut - you’ll want it cold. Feel free to use a thermometer to get a precise chill.
Custard Filled Donut, Peter Pan, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY
Beverage Pairing: Cow’s Milk, of the Whole Varietal
My hipster friend Matt who lives in Brooklyn is really not my friend and mostly an excuse to go here for fresh donuts. (Just kidding, Matt is my deepest and truest man crush next to Hugh Grant.) I feel like enough words have been spilled on Peter Pan. I mean, any place that has earned the accolades of Dodge and Burn writer Victor Jeffreys II and had Tina Fey rave, “And I really believe, when I first tried it, if I had a penis, I would put it in this doughnut. I finally understand what you guys are thinking about and what motivates you guys,” it doesn’t really matter what I say.
I don’t get why people like white cream/icing-filled donuts, which is what Tina recommends. Custard is the way to go for me. Icing is too sweet. But as donuts are democratic, you do you.
Just because you’re in Brooklyn, don’t get some hippy soy or rice or hemp milk - only cow’s milk will do. Since these are really your standard dessert donuts, you should really just do yourself a favor and pair this experience of penis understanding with the mouth feel of whole fat milk.
Sweet Potato Pie Donut, The Salty Donut, Miami FL
Beverage Pairing: Organic, unpasteurized, non-homogenized milk with a smattering of your own tears
I’m one of those jerks who around Thanksgiving argues that marshmallows are an acceptable pairing with sweet potatoes, and no dessert I’ve ever consumed lends more credence to that declaration than the Sweet Potato Pie Donut I had at The Salty Donut popup in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami. This is your bullshit artisanal hipster donut-making at its finest.
I mean, look at this fucking donut:
I ate that fucking thing and it was just heaven. The crispy crumb topping mixed with the softness of the sweet potato filling is the texture experience I wish all my meals would aspire to. And all you mallow and sweet potato haters can fuck right off because that’s a dollop of fluff that offers no apologies for its own greatness.
They had some other donuts that were good that I had later but I was drunk on graffiti and literal booze at the time so this one was amazing.
Though I had this with a nice iced coffee, in retrospect the correct beverage pairing would have been a tall frosty pint glass of organic non-pasteurized non-homogenized whole cow’s milk on the rocks with a dash of my own tears from crying about the life experience of eating this donut and the deep shame of liking artisanal hipster bullshit.
Cider Donuts, Terhune Orchards, Princeton, NJ
Beverage Pairing: Direct from the teet cow’s milk
I love cider donuts. I am not going to argue here that they are actually all that special a donut in terms of ingredients or quality. They’re just pretty basic sweet ring cake donuts that taste like autumn and nostalgia. Get them plain or with cinnamon sugar. You get them powdered and I’ve got a box of Entenmann’s to throw in your face.
To give you deeper insight into the nostalgia, I grew up near a place called Scrumpy’s Cider Mill and would get cider donuts every autumn until it closed early in my elementary school years. Later, we would get them from a place near my grandmother’s house called Geiger’s Cider Mill (which the Internet is convincing me is probably defunct), and I rediscovered them at Hacklebarney Farm Cider mill, near where my father and I would go hiking. All of these places are in New Jersey.
Terhune is a more convenient stop during my travels, and additionally they make a mean ass pie perfect for Thanksgiving dinner, so come November I rock their donuts out of love and affection for a treat I’ve enjoyed over a lifetime.
For your beverage pairing on these, I’d recommend breaking into a nearby Jersey dairy farm in the dead of the night and suckling directly from an udder while mashing cider donut into your face screaming the lyrics to Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” or Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” until the local authorities capture you. The intensity of flaunting the rights of property owners by trespassing and aggressively agitating a bovine who did nothing to bother you is only matched by the freshness of a truly “whole” milk unmarred by any sort of processing for consistency or sanitation combined with the texture experience of the crisp yet soft cider donut.
KorbenDonutBathroomPass is an unmitigated disaster of a human being from whom you should take no advice about anything. His suggestions and opinions on donuts are based purely on personal preference and have no basis in any sort of objective understanding of baking or cooking. You can read more of his boring meandering takes on donuts and other inconsequential life events at his twitter account.