Monday, January 04, 2016

Dunkin' Donuts: The "Bakery".

I grew up on the East Coast, in the part of America that actually "Runs on Dunkin'".  I've consumed my fair share of Dunkin' Donuts coffee (generally iced) and sweet treats (generally Coolattas).  I've reviewed all that stuff before, as well as talked about my nostalgia for Dunks.

Strangely, even though I'm obviously totally a sweets girl, when I think of Dunkin' Donuts, I don't think of the donuts.  Sure, I attended plenty of birthday parties when I was growing up that featured a box of Munchkins, and I had my cheap days in college where I used to order just one Munchkin before they could figure out how to charge for it, but, I was never into the donuts.  And now ... Dunkin' Donuts doesn't just make donuts, they have a huge variety of items from the "Bakery".

Just like the coffee though, standards have changed.  The baked good are no longer baked fresh at every store every morning like they used to be.  I still haven't ventured out to try many of the newer baked goods (bagels, danishes, croissants, even cookies), nor any of the sandwiches (the breakfast sandwiches sorta make sense, but I still can't wrap my head around Dunkin' Donuts selling things like chicken salad sandwiches!)

Anyway, I digress.  Onto the baked goods reviews we go! Spoiler: Um, these are not the things my memories are made of.

Donuts

So obviously, the signature item at Dunkin' Donuts is, well, the donuts.  They are available in a slew of varieties, raised or cake, and generally topped or filled with stuff.  They carry all the classic flavors you'd expect, and are constantly introducing seasonal specials.  Over the years, I've tried a bunch, but still haven't ever found one that I'd actually like to get another of.
Boston Cream Donut w/ Sprinkles. $1.09.
I'm  over donuts from Dunkin' Donuts, but the same does not apply to Ojan.  Whenever we visit the east coast, he must visit, at least once, for a donut.

On one recent trip, we failed to visit Dunkin' Donuts during the trip, so we had to stop at the Boston Logan airport to pick one up before we left.  Prices were higher there, $1.09 for a single donut, which seems crazy for a Dunkin' Donut, but, Ojan needed his fix.

I asked what kind he wanted, and he looked at me like I was crazy.  There is one, and only one, kind of donut one gets at Dunks: the Boston Cream.

While I could care less about their donuts, I still couldn't resist trying a bite, could I?  Of course not.

It was ... exactly what I expected.  A raised donut, not really awesome, but fluffy enough, kinda stale tasting.  Covered in tons of mediocre chocolate glaze, slightly crusty.  And sprinkles for some reason, not generally part of the standard offering.

I took the first bite, and got no cream, so I had to keep going.  I took a second bite, and a third.  Still no cream.  Isn't the creme filling what this donut is all about?  Ojan glared at me, knowing I don't even like these donuts, yet I was eating his whole donut.

I handed it over, never able to get to the cream.  He then grumbled about how there was no cream inside, although he eventually found a little.  He wasn't pleased with the cream to donut ratio.  He even threw out most of the donut once the cream had been depleted.

Worth the $1.09?  Nah.  But Ojan got his moment ... sorta.

[ Update, 2016: Ojan, as always when visiting the Boston area, got a few Boston Cream donuts.  Eventually, I tried another bite.  It was exactly as I remembered.  The donut was kinda oily and stale tasting.  The cream and chocolate were ok, but, you can't fix a donut that begins with a low quality base.  ]

Blueberry Cobbler Donut.  $0.95.
"Yeast shell donut with blueberry filling, finished with white icing and coffee cake streusel topping".

This was available for a limited time only, a seasonal special, and it sounded pretty enticing.

The crumble on top was cinnamon streusel, which was good with black coffee, just like coffee cake.  It had a nice cinnamon flavor, but it was a bit soggy, not crispy like you'd expect.

The icing was very sweet, and flavorless, and there was way too much of it on top.

The donut itself was just a basic fried donut.  The blueberry jelly filling was basically ... slime.  It really made me want a classic jelly donut instead.

I almost threw it out.  But then, it totally grew on me.  There is something about the classic Dunkin' Donuts fried dough that I just can't resist, at least when it isn't totally stale tasting.  I wouldn't get this again, since I didn't like the blueberry filling and thought the icing was too heavy, but in the end, I enjoyed it.

(June 2014 Seasonal Special).

Sugar Jelly Donut. $0.99.
On one visit, I had a coupon for 2 donuts for $0.99.  A single donut usually costs $0.99.  So, even though I didn't want a donut, Ojan of course wanted a Boston cream, so, I got one too, because, well, it was free.  How do you resist freebies?

I opted for a jelly donut.  I'm not sure I've ever had a full size Dunkin' Donuts jelly donut, although I've had the Munchkin.  I was just really craving the amazing jelly donut I had a few days prior from Ohlin's Bakery (stay tuned for this review!)

It was ... slightly better than expected?

The outside had a small dusting of sugar, standard, small crystals.  It was slightly crispy on the outside, in a somewhat stale sort of way.  Light, fluffy, raised dough, a bit sweet, not particularly remarkable, and again, slightly stale tasting, slightly too fried tasting.  I'm really selling this, right?
Sugar Jelly: Inside.
Inside was the part I was most eager for: the jelly!

It was very generic red goo, with no distinct berries, no real indication of which fruit when into the making of the jelly.  It completed the donut in the way that the jelly should, but, really it was unremarkable.

So, overall, yup, a Dunkin' Donut, no more, no less.  I don't need or want another, but, at least I tried it again?

[ Update, 2016: But of course I got another.  I mean, jelly donut!  It was crazy stale.  I should have known better when there was only one remaining on the shelf that they weren't fresh.  But somehow the jelly jumped out, even though everything else looked fresher.  It was really hard on the outside. In some ways, it wasn't awful, but it was clearly dried out and stale.  The filling, again, just goo.  Really sweet goo.  The generous sweet goo inside, and the sugar coating on the outside, combined to be just too much sweet for me.  Sweet on sweet on sweet.  Meh. ]
Reese’s® Peanut Butter Square.  $1.49.
"Chocolate frosting and Reese’s® Peanut Butter buttercreme, is there anything better?"

On a trip to Los Angeles, the one part of California where they have Dunkin' Donuts, Ojan wanted a donut.  But we were stuffed from our excellent lunch at Father's Office, so he wanted to split one with me.  He asked what I'd want.  I'm not really a fan of their donuts, but, given the lineup, one was the clear frontrunner: the new Reese’s® Peanut Butter Square.  I love peanut butter and chocolate.  He wanted his Boston Cream, but was willing to try this one.

It was ... ok.  Like all their donuts, I just don't like the donut itself.  Kinda stale, kinda oily, not very good.  The chocolate on top was good enough.  The peanut butter filling was pretty good though, creamy, nice peanut flavor.  Hard to really go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter.

Ojan took one bite, and didn't like it.  He just wanted his Boston Cream.  He immediately said it was all mine.  And I didn't like the donut dough itself.  So ... I ripped it open, and just sucked all the tasty peanut butter cream out.

I wouldn't get this again, obviously.  At $1.49, it was also priced higher than all other donuts.

(September 2015 Special)
Assorted Donuts.
I attended a holiday party where my sister works.  The sweets table was a bit amusing.  Half of it was homemade goods, such as my mom's pumpkin pie, the owner's famous gingerbread cookies, fantastic peanut butter fudge made by the mailman, sticky, decadent baklava from a client, all clearly made with love and care.  The other half was store bought goodies, generally from the basic grocery store or Trader Joes.  And, a box of Dunkin' Donuts.  Hey, at least people contributed?

I was clearly far more into the home baked goods, but, I could resist a try of a donut.  Or two.

Strawberry Frosted Sprinkle Donut:
Yes, I was the person who cut out a wedge from the pink frosted with sprinkles.  It was the same as all the other donuts I've tried: raised, stale, oily dough.  Not very good.  The icing didn't really have much flavor, but I'm pretty sure it supposed to be strawberry.  Either that, or this was vanilla frosted, and was just pinkish for the holidays, as it had red and green sprinkles too.  Anyway, it was not very good.

Maple Frosted Donut:
So I tried the maple frosted, thinking the maple glaze would be better.  The donut was just as bad, the icing just sweet.

Chocolate Frosted Cake Donut:
Ok, third time's the charm, right?  I went for something else entirely, the chocolate cake donut, glazed.  I figured that if I didn't like the raised donuts, perhaps I just wanted a cake one?  It was no better, not rich chocolate flavor, and just as stale tasting.  I went back to just get more baklava :)

Munchkins

If you have never been to a child's party where Dunkin' Donuts is, perhaps you don't know what Munchins are.  You just know them as donut holes.  These are a strong memory of mine, always purchased by the box, and always pulled out by the mothers who weren't like mine, and baked everything from scratch for their kid's parties.

I'm a little heartbroken.  I took careful notes on all of the different munchkins I tried, but I have absolutely no idea what happened to them.  I don't have the detailed notes anymore, but I do remember that they all tasted fairly stale, just like oil, and weren't very good.

They've also finally figured out how to charge for just one munchkin.  Back in the day, I'd order my coffee and a single munchkin.  Since munchkins are normally sold in giant boxes, they never knew how to ring it up, and generally didn't care enough to figure it out, so I'd get my munchkin for free.  When I was in college and grad school, I thought I was so clever, and this was a big deal!  Now, they know how to charge me the 25 cents.
Jelly Munchkin. $0.25.
The jelly munchkin had a disappointingly small amount of jelly inside.  This was very sad, because I really used to love these things.  Didn't I?

Pumpkin Munchkin.  $0.25.
I'm really not sure why I ordered this.  I know I don't really care about the donuts at Dunkin' Donuts.  I'm there for the coffee drinks.  But, I saw that they had pumpkin and blueberry munchkins, instead of just the regular glazed, chocolate glazed, and jelly filled offerings, and I couldn't resist the urge to try something new.  Damn seasonal specials tempting me unexpectedly!

It was ... a basic Dunkin' Donuts munchkin.  Not very fresh tasting.  Lots of sweet glaze on the outside.  But, it was decently "pumpkin" spiced I guess.  And it was orange inside, even though I didn't taste pumpkin.  Maybe worth the 25 cents :)

Specialty

And then ... Dunkin' Donuts joined the cronut craze.  Yes, yes, they went there.

Croissant Donut.
"Flaky layers of croissant glazed like a donut."

The famed croissant donut.  I actually wasn't even planning to get one of these, as I didn't think it would possibly be good.  But when I was visiting my family, my mom showed up with one.  I obviously had to try it.

It was exactly what I expected.  It tasted oily.  Stale.  Meh.

The layers were lighter and fluffier than a standard Dunkin' Donuts donut.  But, not flaky and buttery like a croissant.  And no crispy exterior like it should have.  Sorry Dunkin' Donuts, you can't recreate an item like the cronut in a mass produced way like this ...

Muffins

The one bakery item, besides donuts, that Dunkin' Donuts had when I was growing up was muffins.  I actually used to love these.  When I drove to and from college, there was a Dunkin' Donuts right at the halfway point, and I'd always stop to get a muffin.  I loved the corn muffins and banana nut most of all.  I've opted not to try them again, as I don't want to ruin the memory.  But maybe they still are good?


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Blueberry Muffin

One time when I was with my sister, we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for a little sister date.  (I know, aren't we cute?)  She opted for a muffin, blueberry.  She begrudgingly shared a bite with me.

The muffin had large sugar crystals on top, and it was a bit crispy on top like I like.  The inside was moist and loaded with berries.  Overall decent flavor.  I only had a bite of my sister's muffin, but I was impressed.

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