Doughnuts have long been an American diet staple. These fried, blood-sugar-spiking carb monsters have brought much joy to the breakfast plates of indiscriminate American eaters while happily contributing to the ever-growing obesity epidemic. The time-tested reputation of these low-brow culinary creations means that they’ve been relegated to a spot in food culture that lies far, far outside of the gourmet spectrum – at least, until the latest trend in reinventing classically unhealthy food fare made its debut.
Foodies, rejoice. Much like the high-quality cupcake craze that recently blitzed cities all across America, gourmet doughnuts (yep, you heard right) are about to have their day. As nutrition becomes more and more of a national issue, doughnut lovers all around the country have tried to find a way to create tasty pastries without all the fat, sugar, and calories. The result is not only a healthier doughnut, but a higher quality one.
Take Holey Donuts, an order-only doughnut business in New York City, for example. The son of the owner of a successful donut franchise, Holey Donuts! founder Frank Dilullo first discovered the joys of a healthier donut when he tried to cook one without a deep fat fryer. He was hooked on the delicious creation, which naturally had great flavor and a fraction of the fat found in regular doughnuts.
“I set out to create a donut like no other, something that would elevate donuts to a new level,” he explains in his mission statement. “Something more high-end, more gourmet, and really just the best donut you could make.” His success led to a burgeoning home-delivery business that will soon expand into several retail stores. The stores will sell favorites like Coconut Cream Pie and Blueberry Crumb Cake, donuts at less than 200 calories a pop.
He’s not the only person looking to perfect the gourmet donut. Frittelli’s Doughnuts and Coffee was one of the first gourmet donut places to garner widespread attention, and boasted the only gourmet donuts in Beverly Hills, California. Frittelli’s offered “designer” donuts made daily with only the freshest ingredients, like real fruit fillings, high-quality flour, and imported high-quality vanilla. The great ingredients, high-end atmosphere and hand-crafted arrangements led to Fritelli’s being voted the #1 doughnut place in Los Angeles by multiple newspapers and magazines.
Sadly, in the economic downturn, Fritelli’s went under, but the enthusiasm for its gourmet offerings did not. Most people don’t have to look too far these days to see the growing popularity of the high-end doughnut. Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon, Psycho Donuts in San Jose, California, Donuts with a Difference in Medford, Massachusetts, and Dynamo Donuts and Coffee in San Francisco all take claim to the gourmet doughnut status, and the concept is spreading.
Just like any gourmet offering, the key to gourmet donuts is freshness, quality ingredients and the homegrown care and enthusiasm of the people who create them. As Americans become more aware of just how much processing their food goes through, it’s no surprise that more and more people are looking for healthier and higher-quality options for everything – and that (finally) includes the doughnut. So step away from the corner donut place and find a gourmet shop near you, and enjoy the difference organic quality makes.