Weekends and doughnuts are inextricably linked for me. Saturdays after soccer games, Sundays after church, in the car as we head out for a trip. These special weekend days are made memorable through a Boston crème doughnut and flavored coffee from Dunkin’ (no longer Dunkin’ Doughnuts? A decision that is rocking me to my core. I mean I never said the full name, but it’s the principle of the thing). Therefore, when a sunny fall Saturday comes along and I am longing to be in the woods of New Hampshire, a doughnut is the perfect remedy.
What we do not have a lot of in New Hampshire is gourmet doughnut shops. It’s pretty much Dunkin’ or bust. Not even a Krispy Kreme to be found with the exception of special boxes bought for school fundraisers. So a venture to a fancy doughnut shop is certainly an NYC twist to my classic tradition. But a welcome one indeed as I examined the menu at The Doughnut Plant, only a 20 minute walk away at 379 Grand St. in the lower east side. The variety of doughnut types was astounding: yeast, cake, what they call dough seeds (like a larger, fancier doughnut hole, really just more of an average sized doughnut compared to the rest of the shops massive yeast doughnuts). And then the flavors: vanilla bean, valrhona chocolate, rose dough flower, red velvet, matcha, vanilla bean and jam, coconut creme, creme brule, and many more. Personally, I knew I had to settle on a flavor I have recently become obsessed with – Peanutbutter and Jelly. Perhaps it is a nostalgia for my youth manifesting in food, but show me a peanut butter and jelly flavored thing – ice cream, cake, brownie, truffle, doughnut – and I want it.
The store itself, though not a place with a ton of room to sit down, is cute and clean with a modern feel. You walk in and are hit by a wafting smell of dough and coffee. The line is long enough that you have time to scope out your options, but moves quickly so you do not grow impatient and upset in your hungry state. As I stare at my prospects it is hard not to be tempted by the plethora of doughy goodness and get a half dozen for myself. In the name of science of course. Experimentation. But when I reach the register I exercise a massive amount of willpower and order only my peanut butter and jelly doughnut. Seconds after I leave with bag containing doughnut in hand and find a nearby park fit for doughnut consumption.
The doughnut is sizable, yet light. The smell of pure peanut is intense, and I see that it is real peanuts covering the outside. There is a thin, creamy spread of peanut goodness all around, but throughout that there are small, crunchy peanut chunks. This alone tells me I’m not about to have an average doughnut. My inkling is definitively confirmed when I bite into the pillowy corner and rip away the well-developed yeasty fibers that lie inside. I look to inspect the contents and find beautiful, stretchy craters and caves surrounding a rich purple jam. I try some jam on its own before experiencing it along with the doughnut itself. It is a sweetness that is fresh and not overpowering. The flavor is deep and clearly one created by real berries; no canned jam or jelly could create this depth of flavor.
An all-encompassing bite puts it all together in a nostalgic dance across the pallet. The peanuts create a perfectly grounded base layer for the jelly to sparkle and shine. And the dough is never forgotten about; each bite and every chew is an adventure for the mouth with this wonderfully springy base. Each component knew its role and played it perfectly. It was a reminder of my childhood in an updated and enhanced fashion. If you’re looking for a taste of nostalgia in a special New York way, The Doughnut Plant has got ya covered.