Lately it feels as if I’m stuck in the betweens: a sort of limbo where you can see the road traveled ahead, you can even catch a glimpse of the future version of yourself living your life exactly as you wished it to be — but here you are, in a house with no keys and no car. Only the solace that, at some point, you’ll make it to the other side.
Sometimes this comfort is fleeting, especially when you live in the here and the now, where every word is a pin-prick, every sound a shudder. Where you believe that people exist solely to make your life difficult. The last few weeks have been challenging — both physically and professionally (I’ll say no more than that) — and all I want to do is surround myself with beauty and quiet.
For me, food is like church in its ability to soothe and comfort. There is a satisfaction in making something with your hands, food that is personal in its intent to give pleasure to the one who consumes it. Often I talk about bakers as artisans in the kitchen — people who exercise gastronomic feats that is ethereal in form.
So when I woke feeling a little blue, I decided to indulge in the artistry of others rather than making something of my own. For six hours I traveled the city and Brooklyn and sampled hot cookies, feathery-light donuts, heavenly whipped ice cream, all the while compiling a goodie basket for a friend who is in need of sweet cheer.
I kicked off my sweet tour at Doughnut Plant in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. This nondescript downtown staple showcases fresh yeast and cake doughnuts made with seasonal flavors and ingredients. From the traditional jelly and glaze to the outrageously divine creme brulee, coconut creme, and blueberry, you will fall in love at first bite. I tend to deviate toward yeast doughnuts because they’re more aerated and fluffier than the heavier (but smaller) cake version. However, doughnut connoisseurs will not be disappointed with this spot where lines routinely roll out the door.
If you hadn’t noticed, I’m a bit of a sweet snob. I think Magnolia Bakery is vastly overrated, and many shops serve up flavorless cookies or saccharine sweet belly-bombing cakes. I live by the axiom that if my amateur kitchen can churn out a better muffin than those housed in your storefront, then your shop isn’t worth patroning. It seems as if EVERYONE.COM has been singing the praises of Levain Bakery’s six-ounce cookies, however, I yawned.
UNTIL their treats were featured on The Cooking Channel‘s Unique Sweets. Believe me when I say that I LIVE FOR THIS SHOW. I BUY EVERYTHING FEATURED ON THIS SHOW. I BELIEVE IN THIS SHOW. The show feature was enough to send me uptown to sample their famous cookies, and OH MY SWEET LORD THEY WERE DELICIOUS. The enormous cookies are scone-like in shape and texture, but they are undeniably flavorful — so much so that I could practically taste the vanilla extract in the oatmeal raisin cookies. AND THE RAISINS WERE SOFT AND TENDER!!!
I nearly wept a poodle.
My sage online buddy, @mike_white, directed me in the direction of Dough, a small doughnut joint in Bed-Sty, Brooklyn. I first attempted to snag a doughnut at the Brooklyn Flea, but the place was packed to the gills and they were wiped out of doughnuts. Invasion of the Doughnut Snatchers and the like.
After a ten-minute walk I encountered the BEST DOUGHNUTS OF MY LIFE. The shop is tiny and the wait Odyssean, but it’s worth it. From passionfruit glaze and mocha chips to blood orange glaze and creme filling to toasted coconuts, the shop is a literal feast for the eyes. I don’t care that my walk home was forty-five minutes. I don’t care that I was crammed in a little shop. I don’t care that doughnuts are 1.5 million calories.
THESE DOUGHNUTS GAVE ME A REASON TO LIVE.
And what started out as a day worth shredding soon morphed into an adventure. On my way home I picked up hyacinths and tulips, and carried my bounty, home.
I hope my friend doesn’t freak out when she sees three pounds of sugar, butter and glaze.