The new cream of the crop in the donut world has elevated the humble donut into a gourmet dessert, as evidenced by examples like the specialty donuts at Los Angeles-based California Donuts, which sell for $2, $2.50 or $3 apiece. The specialty menu includes their signature Panda donut made with Oreo pieces, Blueberry Toast Crunch, Strawberry and Nuts, Samoa, and Lucky Charms.
“Paying attention to trends and what’s happening in the food world is what helps us be in the know,” says Danette Kuoch, manager of California Donuts, which opened over 35 years ago as a tiny donut shop but catapulted into fame based on its eye-catching, photo-worthy creations. “We have now become a late-night dessert spot in Los Angeles.”
It is becoming quite evident that donut shops like these examples are picking up where the cupcake movement left off, by using a bakery item as a platform to create a menu full of fun and interesting tastes. Forget 31 flavors. Donut shops like Strange Donuts in St. Louis makes more than a hundred.
Donut offerings can be kept fresh and evolving with unique flavor pairings, integrating flavors from around the world or by capitalizing on current trends such as mashups.
For instance, Southern California’s acclaimed Sidecar Doughnuts offers a Basil Eggs Benedict donut that is a new take on a popular breakfast item. This malasada-style donut is stuffed with ham and a pre-poached egg. It is then fried and finished with a piping of basil Hollandaise sauce inside.
One example of an exotic flavor that has taken hold in the donut world in the last few years is the ube donut. Ube, which originated in the Philippines, refers to the bright purple sweet potato that is traditionally boiled and mashed with condensed milk and butter to form “dessert” mashed potatoes. It has become a popoular inclusion in a variety of desserts, especially donuts, for its unique taste and color.
All it takes to grab consumers’ attention is a little creativity, which can then lead to consumers paying more for higher-end donuts.
Along those lines, Hurts Donut Company has grown from one Springfield, Missouri, location in 2015 to 19 locations through ten states from Wisconsin to Arizona. The growth is thanks, in large part, to donuts topped with quirky ingredients like breakfast cereal and Nutella.