A new hue of frosting at a discount price: Donuts at Ultra Foods

2 Jul

If you like a good bargain, you are probably already well aware of grocery stores like Ultra Foods, where reasonable prices are easily attainable.  While we here at Breakfast Adventures love a good bargain, we also love a good donut.  So when we we drove by Ultra Foods recently, we remembered something important: grocery stores sometimes have fresh donuts in a “baked goods” area.

Yes, Dear Readers, after an initial Donut Investigation, we determined this to be true at Ultra Foods.  Happily, we returned this morning to sample their wares.

Here’s what we found:

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Frosting #1: Chocolate

Coffee Girl: Ultra Foods’ chocolate frosting is on the dark side – not as in malevolent, but as in less sweet and with an edge of, “I’m a fricking hippy and I refuse to eat things that simply taste good when, with the simple addition of an unappetizing ingredient, I could remind you that people are suffering on the other side of the world.”  But I digress.  Ultra Foods’ chocolate frosting is fine, if you like that sort of thing.  It failed to ruin their chocolate frosted yellow cake donut, due to the delightful yellow cake underneath, which is moist and flavorful, non-crumbly, substantial but not overly heavy.  The chocolate frosted chocolate cake?  Not so much.  The slight bitter edge to the chocolate cake meets up with the slightly more-righteous-than-thou darkness to the frosting and together create a donut that is — all right, I’ll say it — just not sweet enough.

Donut Boy: Very straightforward, classic chocolate frosting.  Milky, yet also a bit dark.  I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with my colleague, I thought it worked well with both the regular cake donut and the chocolate cake donut, the latter of which really tasted like a slice of chocolate cake in circular form.  Both donuts had a pleasing moistness and distinct flavors to their doughs.  Classic donuts done well.

Frosting #2: Vanilla

Coffee Girl: I love Ultra Foods’ vanilla frosting.  This is good old-fashioned, thick, heavy white icing – a hearty match for any donut it meets.  It’s a stellar topping to the tasty yellow cake donut.  It helps out the chocolate cake donut as much as anything could, and the cruller … O.K., I don’t understand the appeal of crullers, but if you’re going to encounter a cruller, I recommend you insist it be topped with Ultra Foods’ white frosting.

Donut Boy: Sweeter than the chocolate frosting, this vanilla frosting was also very smooth and creamy.  The cake donuts proved similar moist to the ones we’d previously tried (see above — points for consistency!), whereas the cruller was lighter and flakier.  For my taste, the chocolate cake donut clashed a bit with the vanilla frosting, making it difficult to fully appreciate either.  No, I thought the vanilla frosting worked best with the regular cake donut.  Tasty!

Frosting #3: Caramel

Coffee Girl: Oh.  My.  God.  This frosting; this frosting!  Who knew that wonderful, basic, cheap Ultra Foods would harbor such a secret pleasure bomb? Caramel frosting!  Not something we see every day.  Atop Ultra Foods’ superior yellow cake donuts and gently sweet raised donuts, this frosting adds a level of Divine Exotica.  Imagine our happiness for the poor, bitter, chocolate cake donuts when we tasted them in the company of a frosting that is so buttery, so rich, so toe-tinglingly heavenly that we sat for a few moments in stunned silence after each and every bite.  Get ye to Ultra Foods.  Order every donut that comes with caramel frosting.  Take a bite of each, then bring them to my house and go away.

Donut Boy: As soon as I took my first bite of the caramel-frosted cake donut, I knew I’d found my favorite frosting.  A strong sweetness balanced out a heavy buttery flavor and made all three of these donuts fantastic.  By now, I knew Ultra Foods was going to deliver the goods with their cake dough, so it was just a matter of deciding which combo I liked best.  I settled on the chocolate cake-caramel frosting combo, which I liked because the slightly bitter tint of the chocolate dough balanced out the sweet caramel frosting.  Like eating a candy bar.

Additional Donut #1: Glazed

Coffee Girl: Very nice.  Slightly more substantial than the typical yeast donut, with a lovely, gentle, buttery taste that is happily paired with a gently sweet glaze that is not overly sticky.  One of the best B-grade glazed donuts I’ve had, by which I mean one of the best to be had outside of the specialty bakeries.

Donut Boy:  Not quite as sweet or as mushy as I might have liked, but still darn tasty.  The dough was chewy yet not too dry.  Overall, I’d describe this donut as “gentle.”  Certainly good, but I could have used a little less subtlety.

Additional Donut #2: Apple Fritter

Coffee Girl: Donut Boy was disappointed, but then he’s a Fritter Snob.  True, this fritter was thicker and breadier than we prefer, but the texture was fresh and the taste was pleasantly apple-cinnamony; I would not turn it down if I found one next to my coffee.

Donut Boy: After liking so many of the donuts we’d tried, I immediately did not like this one.  Far too dry (and too thick), this tasted more like a loaf of apple-cinnamon bread than a pastry.  No crunch.  Disappointing.

Additional Donut #3:

Choc. Frosted Custard-Filled

Donut Boy: Surprisingly light custard with a sweet and creamy flavor.  This donut hit all points — supportive-yet-not-dry dough, nice frosting, ample filling — the classic picture of a custard-filled donut.  I have no complaints, only a hankering for another.

Additional Donut #4:

Vanilla Frosted Jelly

Coffee Girl: The best jelly donut I’ve had this year.  Its success lies in 1) an extremely tasty, classic raspberry jelly, 2) well-distributed inside a 3) sturdy-but-fresh yeast donut, topped with a 4) perfect, thick topping of white frosting.

Donut Boy: Deceptively good.  This jelly donut started out unassuming and quickly proved its point with a sweet, smooth jelly that paired very pleasantly with the vanilla frosting.  It was only when I’d finished it that I realized just how much I enjoyed it.  I would definitely get this again.

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And so, our Donut Instincts, having led us to the bakery area of Ultra Foods, rewarded us.  The caramel frosting in itself merits a trip — we honestly have never come across anything like that.  To find such an awesome flavor in such an unassuming location — this is what Breakfast Adventuring is all about.

And, true to their nature, Ultra Foods saved us some money.  Yes, donuts rarely get very expensive, but it still felt great to walk away with a dozen fresh, handmade donuts for less than $9.  Really, if you have an Ultra Foods near you (or a similar bargain grocery store), be sure to check if they offer donuts.  Because you never know — they might just end up being some of the best you’ve had.

Until next week, Donut People!

-CG&DB

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