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Eight Essential New York Donuts

donutsExcept for a few, potato latke-loving eateries (see our recent roundup), you won’t consistently find potato pancakes on New York menus for more than eight days of the year.  But that’s not so for donuts, another highly traditional and awesome Hanukkah food.  Beloved by both Jews and Gentiles alike, the sugary circles of deep-fried dough are sold fresh and warm all over the city 24/7, which can be dangerous at 2 in the morning a few cocktails deep.  There are classic glazed donuts at old-school bakeries, like Peter Pan in Brooklyn, seasonal, Concord Grape-filled squares at Doughnut Plant on the Lower East Side, and even elegant restaurant versions, like the bite-sized Portuguese renditions at Aldea in Flatiron, and chewy, French Beignets with Mango Marmalade at The Modern in Midtown.  And while we definitely plan to eat our fill during Hanukkah, it’s also good to know that we can stock up on these delectable donuts year round!

Doughnut Plant’s Square Donuts

Doughnut Plant’s Square Donuts
379 Grand Street
Lower East Side,New York 10002
(212) 505-3700

Who says all donuts have to be round?  This Lower East Side bakery’s four-cornered sweets are cleverly structured, so that there’s filling in every single bite.  Which is a terrific thing when options include Blackout Cake with Chocolate Pudding, Peanut Butter with Blackberry Jam, or Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese.  Equally popular are their fun-sized, mini Doughseeds, which pack tons of flavor (Crème Brulee, Pumpkin and Cashew-Orange Blossom were recent specials) into a mere mouthful.

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The Modern’s Beignets

The Modern’s Beignets
9 W 53rd Street
Midtown West,New York 10019
(212) 333-1220

Executive Chef Gabriel Kreuther may be departing The Modern soon to open his own restaurant, but we hope the MoMa eatery holds on to its talented Pastry Chef Marc Aumont.  He serves a glorious dessert tasting menu in the formal dining room, but guests will be equally rewarded for grabbing a swivel stool in the comparatively more casual bar.  Sweets like Citrus Carpaccio, Apple Strudel and Pistachio Napoleon are offered a la carte, along with that  French specialty, Beignets; golden rectangles of deep-fried choux paste served with Maple Ice Cream, Caramel, and Mango Marmalade.

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Dough’s Yeast Donuts

Dough’s Yeast Donuts
448 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn,New York 11205
(347) 533-7544

Fany Gerson definitely knows her desserts.  In addition to this Bed Stuy bakeshop, the “My Sweet Mexico” author is also the creative force behind La Newyorkina, a company specializing in uniquely flavored (even occasionally spicy) Paletas, or Mexican ice pops.  So expect the unexpected from Gerson’s yeast-risen sweets at Dough.  They’re about as large as Frisbees, and come in vibrant flavors, including Passion Fruit with Cocoa Nibs, Mojito with Candied Mint Leaf, and our hands down favorite, Lemon Meringue – a delightfully over-the-top donut filled with Lemon Curd and topped with a pillowy crown of toasted Italian Meringue.

Craft’s Sugar and Spice Donuts

Craft’s Sugar and Spice Donuts
43 East 19th Street
Flatiron District,New York 10003
(212) 780-0880
Cuisine:

The pastry program is hardly an afterthought at Craft, once upon a time overseen by the James Beard Award-winning Karen DeMasco, and now by her protégé, Abby Swain.  As with the savory menu, the dessert roster focuses on simplicity and seasonality, currently exemplified by the Maple Custard with Butternut Squash, Gingerbread with Quince, and the always popular Sugar and Spice Donuts, accompanied by appropriately autumnal Apple Butter and Spiced Caramel for dipping.

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Aldea’s Sonhos

Aldea’s Sonhos
31 W 17th Street
Flatiron District,New York 10011
(212) 675-7223

You’ll want to cap off a meal at George Mendes’ airy Iberian restaurant with these fun-to-say sweets, Portuguese for “Little Dreams.”  A traditional dessert of fried dough rolled in sugar, Mendes piles a generous handful of the improbably feather-light Sonhos into a cloth napkin, and serves them with a trio of dipping sauces such as Salted Vanilla Caramel, bittersweet Spiced Chocolate and tangy Lemon Curd.

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Sullivan Street Bakery’s Bomboloni

Sullivan Street Bakery’s Bomboloni
533 W 47th Street
Hell's Kitchen,New York 10036
(212) 265-5580

While this seminal bakery is rightly known for its bread (check out owner Jim Lahey’s awesome, no-knead method in his popular cookbook), Sullivan Street also happens to excel at Bomboloni, the pillowy Italian cousin of the donut.  Boasting a burnished outer crust, these buttery, powdered sugar-dusted dough bombs are injected with either lemon and vanilla bean-accented custard, thick chocolate mousse or seasonal jellies and jams.

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Peter Pan’s Cake Donuts

Peter Pan’s Cake Donuts
727 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn,New York 11222
(718) 389-3676

This family-owned Polish bakery has been a treasured staple in Greenpoint for decades now and they continue to draw crowds (even an occasional celebrity, like Tina Fey), for their traditional cake and yeast-risen donuts, priced at just $1 each.  Streamlined flavors like Red Velvet, Honey-Glazed or Raspberry Jam are especially popular, though if you really want to go nuts, you can have any donut of your choice split in half, its crumbly innards filled with scoops of Häagen-Dazs ice cream!

Dun-Well’s Vegan Donuts

Dun-Well’s Vegan Donuts
222 Montrose Avenue
Brooklyn,New York 11206
(347) 294-0871

Why shouldn’t dairy-free eaters be able to have their cake and eat it, too?  That was the idea behind this all-vegan donut shop (a first for New York), although there’s no denying that their goods are downright delicious, no matter what your dietary requirements are.  There are over 200 fun rotating flavors, which include classic Glazed, Cinnamon Sugar, Chocolate Cake and Jelly Donuts, yes, but also Caramel Popcorn, Tangerine Basil, Margarita, Candy Bar and Sweet Potato Pie.

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