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Saturday, December 22, 2012

On Donuts

There seems to have been a conundrum surrounding the entire idea of donuts. As Americans, we're normally accustomed to believing that donuts are something of a fattening, albeit delicious beyond celestial boundaries, treat. And that's about it. No one ever thinks beyond the fact that they're donuts. I mean, they're just there.

Anyway, earlier I was at Dunkin Donuts and while browsing through the flavors (because, you have to admit, they do have a lot of flavors, especially at chain stores like Krispy Kreme and Peter Pan), I was wondering why there were so many varieties in the first place. Obviously, there's the different combinations of colors, creme, icings, designs, sprinkles, and who-knows-how-many other embellishments customers just love smothered across their donuts like gravy on egg foo young. Factoring out the cheery marbled holiday designs, there was the simple decision -- what sort of donut do I want?

Now, for anyone who's thinking on terms of glazed vs. jelly, I'm past the fillings and decorations. There's (almost) literally hundreds of batters and doughs you can use to make donuts. Yes, batters and doughs. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from the myriad combinations of cider, sour cream, red velvet, cake, etc. donuts I've seen a distinct difference -- donuts, once thought to be a fried culinary delicacy, seems to be jumping out of that hard-enclosed box these days.

Quoting Wikipedia, "doughnut or donut (pron.: /ˈdnət/ or /ˈdnʌt/) (see spelling differences) is a type of fried dough confectionery or Dessert food. doughnut or donut (pron.: /ˈdnət/ or /ˈdnʌt/) (see spelling differences) is a type of fried dough confectionery or Dessert food...They are usually deep-fried from a flour dough, and shaped in rings or flattened spheres that sometimes contain fillings. Other types of batters can also be used, and various toppings and flavorings are used for different types.” 

In a nutshell, donuts (or doughnuts for the more literally correct) seems to have the connotion of being fried. Not just shallow fried like pancakes or those adorable crepes you can buy off a street vendor along the Champs-Élysées. Real, hardcore, deep-fried balls of dough. If I'm not mistaken, this eliminates the entire line of cake donuts, waffle donuts, and adorable bagel-like donuts that have recently been showing up in donut stores everywhere. 

What's the big difference anyway? Negating the excessive use of oil and calories gained from frying, texture and taste-wise baked donuts have the same variety for which fried donuts are loved. Unless you're a fan of greasy and crispy crusted balls of dough, opting for the baked seems to be the better choice. Although Dunkin Donuts seems to have a tradition of frying all of their donuts, in that past few years many stores have been baking their goods (hence the promise of "fresh baked goods"). 

Besides, what's the one feature we love about donuts anyway? It's their light, fluffy texture, their perfect pick-me-up conglomeration of sugary goodness, and simple, satisfactory puff of air that escapes when you pull it away from your mouth in a bite. Personally, so long as my donuts taste right, I wouldn't mind switching to the baked varieties.

Out of simple curiosity, I've compiled a list of unique donuts from around the world. They say it's a small world, but I believe otherwise.

Over the Top Bagels
Fine, so these aren't donuts. Since when have I ever been able to pass over exotic foods, though, and bagels and donuts are confused often enough (more about that in a future post). With the grand opening of a new Dunkin Donuts in Xi'an, China, they began a line of "Over the Top Bagels" which are certainly over the top, with their flavors including Pineapple , Ham, Tomato & Cheese; Spinach, Roasted Red Peppers, Roasted Garlic Mayo and Cheese; and Caramelized Onion, Cracked Black Pepper and Cilantro.

Mochi Donuts
Found in Dunkin Donuts across China, these treats are made of glutinous rice that is then fried in oil in their distinctive ring shapes. The green one is green tea latte, with "the texture and color of split pea soup." From my personal experience, however, they are more like chewy cakes.

Daiquiri Donuts
Found in Spain, these donuts provide a burst of er, happiness, for any rum/cocktail afficianado. Seems as though they must be pretty popular in the area.

Kimchi Donuts
Yippee, savory donuts! Though I'm typically opposed to such combinations of sweet and savory, these kimchi donuts sound like they might be perfect for an after-dinner treat that isn't too sweet. Slash that, not sweet at all. In Korea, Dunkin Donuts sells varieties of kimchi or lentils curry croquettes, which are really more or less fried balls of dough stuffed with fillings. Not the conventional donut, but a work of art nontheless.

Red Bean Bismark
For the culturally inclined (at least in tote with the Asian subculture) there's no surprise someone would dream of injecting our lovely Berliners/bismarks, yeast based fried donuts, with red bean filling. 

Dried Pork and Seaweed
Again, found in China, these are savory donuts that just need some love. If you've ever been in a Chinese bakery, you know how it looks -- among sweet, delicious sheet cakes and buttercream fantasies, there are small, dilapidated fried buns of pork, seaweed, fish powder, and just about every unlikely combination. Not too surprising to see Dunkin Donuts jump on the bandwagon.

 Donut Balls (On a Stick)
...because anything tastes better on a stick, right? I find these little cake pop-esque creations by a Dunkin Donuts in Thailand absolutely adorable. I can just imagine the faces of the little toddlers who get these as a treat for finishing their veggies. :3

Siam Square
I haven't seen these outside of Thailand. Unlike the usual ring-shaped donuts, these are actually infused with jelly along the length of their rings. I'd say it was innovative, if you eliminate the wonder of why they didn't just infuse the donuts with jelly to begin with...

Waffle Donuts
Armed with a new waffle maker (thanks for the birthday present!!!) I am entirely intent on making these waffle-batter-based donuts. Apparently they have the texture of a Belgian waffle with all of the nostalgia of the flat donuts you sometimes try to make on your own (assuming you have no clue how to bake as I once was).

Be Happy!
What's not to love of these adorable emoji donuts from Russia? I'd buy one!

And finally...

Because we all love kolestrol!

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