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Why aren't donuts more popular as a dessert item?

Sure, sometimes they are offered as dessert, but it's pretty rare.

Aren't they the perfect dessert item? Deep-fried, sweet doughy goodness?

Why are donuts more notable as a snack (or a breakfast item in the category of danishes or muffins) than as a true dessert item?

Do you eat donuts for dessert?

I know I do. Homemade donuts with a large scoop of ice cream is just about as perfect as it can get for simplicity and deliciousness.

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  1. I have a salt tooth over a sweet tooth, therefore I rarely eat donuts or ice cream.....maybe once per year. I think I only even eat dessert if it is someone else providing it as I'd rather save my treats for a salty snack later.

    1. That is a really good question. I don't care much for sweets, but I will rarely turn down a donut!!! It's probably a good thing they are not served as a standard dessert item. I haven't made them for years.
      I never really understood the overly sweet Krispy Kreme fad though. Too much. Blech.

      1. um, the donuts are right there. it's just that they're called "beignets" on the dessert menu.

        6 Replies
        1. re: soupkitten

          Some would say that beignets are not desserts.

          But that said, how often do you see beignets on a menu outside of New Orleans? And the famed Cafe Du Monde isn't really a full-blown restaurants, it's sort of like the Krispy Kreme version of beignets.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            well i guess minneapolis/st paul is somewhat afield from new orleans. . . i've seen them around town on dessert menus here and i like to order them for dessert-- actually a little lighter than some of the chocolate cake bombs that are all too common, and very nice to eat with--duh--black coffee :) after a good meal.

            beignets make sense on a dessert menu at small restaurants that don't have a pastry chef, it's a deep fried batter after all, something the line cooks can easily handle. . .

            1. re: soupkitten

              I wasn't discounting what you said soupkitten.

              My only point was that it is just not a popular dessert item -- be they donuts or beignets or churros or whatever. And speaking of churros, you don't even see those very often in Spanish or Mexican dessert menus.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Churros are not generally regarded as desserts in Spain. They're breakfast or morning-snack food.

        2. There was a fad for serving doughnuts as part of a dessert a couple of years ago. You could barely go into a restaurant without coming across them. Last time we tried them (April 08), they were served on the side of an otherwise very good rice pudding creme brulee. An absolutely pointless, stodgy addition which ruined the taste and texture of the brulee - one bite was enough; we left the rest and just ate the brulee

          1. I prefer them for dessert! There was a restaurant called the Rumor Mill in Old Ellicott City, MD that served them as a dessert and also Volt in Frederick, MD had a version on one of their menus.

            1. I think donuts were always sold as something to go with coffee or a quick snack instead of breakfast.
              Along with donuts, things like a Danish, muffin, scone, bagel or croissant entered the mainstream.
              Even though the donut might have all the characteristics of a dessert, you'd be disgraced if you brought a box of donuts as an after dinner dessert. In Hawaii a box of Krispy Kream donuts from the mainland was the best thing you could bring someone not too long ago.

              10 Replies
              1. re: monku

                But that begs the question ... why?

                Why are donuts "always sold as something to go with coffee or a quick snack instead of breakfast"?

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Probably because they were cheap and just fall short of being considered a legitimate pastry.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Well, we clearly need to start a "free the donut" movement. It has been oppressed for FAR too long. I am sick of the stereotyping! It can be just as fine a dessert as creme brulee or apple pie. No longer should the donut see the back of a breakfast menu or be relegated to the "snacks and sides" section. No more!

                    1. re: sedimental

                      Indeed, so true, sounds like a fine Modest Proposal you are making ... Jonathan Swift would be proud.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        "Modest Proposal"... :)
                        Really, I do love me some donuts!

                        1. re: sedimental

                          Ok ... it's just hard to discern sarcasm (or lack of it) through my computer screen.

                      2. re: sedimental

                        "snacks and sides" is being kind.... Most put donuts in the junk food category.

                      3. re: ipsedixit

                        Then again a fresh peach or fresh strawberry donut from The Donut Man would be a great after dinner dessert.

                        1. re: monku

                          Trust me, I've been there and done that ... probably one too many times. For some reason a day old buttermilk goes down really well with some single-malt scotch.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I've heard that about fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Score another one for me to try.

                    2. I think that things that can be picked up and eaten from the hand tend to be thought of more as snacks or treats than formal desserts. Not just doughnuts - when was the last time anyone offered you a candy bar, lollipop, or caramel apple on a stick (or even, for that matter, ice cream served in a cone) for dessert at a sit-down meal?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: BobB

                        Wow. That is an excellent observation Bob...you might be right. It may be as simple as that.

                        1. re: sedimental

                          That may be too glib of an observation.

                          Cookies are hand-held and yet are often considered dessert items. Ditto with profiteroles, or cream puffs, as well as things like mini tarts (e.g. Chinese custard egg tarts).

                          And there are donuts (like the strawberry donut from Donut Man in Glendora) that are definitely a knife-and-fork endeavor.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I'm not touting it as a rule - I did say "tend to be." Cookies are certainly an exception, as are some types of chocolate truffles. But cream puffs and profiteroles, when served as a sit-down dessert, are often served with ice cream or chocolate sauce, making it preferable to eat them with a utensil. And while I'm sure that strawberry doughnut you describe is a delight (and I take your word that it's too messy to eat with bare hands), you must admit that's an anomaly in the world of doughnutry.

                      2. how about the fact that you need a fryer to make a donut and the oil in the fryers has a tendancy to be tainted by the things t hat get cooked in it so you would need to dedicate an entire fryer bay so that you dont have fishy donuts.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: justdorkin

                          Never been to a fish place that served donuts or a donut place that served fish.

                          1. re: monku

                            Oh Lordy.
                            That reminds me of a time when I was traveling and I went to a "donut shop/Chinese restaurant" one morning because nothing else was open. I was just too curious for my own good.
                            Those frosted donuts tasted exactly like chow mein. i am not kidding. I still almost gag when I think of it.

                            1. re: monku

                              Gives a whole new meaning to "fish & chips"

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Funny, I love Chinese food...and I love donuts...just not in one package. It really is ......:
                                "all in the presentation"!

                                1. re: sedimental

                                  Reminds me of all those Chinese fast-food places that also sell donuts.

                          2. Where I live, donuts are a very popular dessert item at high-end restaurants. However, it's always "x's version of donuts". Zeppole, loukamades, beignets, etc. It's the dessert everybody loves but nobody wants to admit to liking.

                            1. only thing I know is our kids, none of them, like doughnuts.........

                              1. At .a wonderful hotel near the Seattle airport, their restaurant serves homemade donuts with amazing Mexican hot chocolate as a desert - just perfect! The hotel is Cedarbrook. They used to be an executive retreat for WaMu and they have a very small and very good restaurant - as well as living rooms in each building with guest rooms that are stocked with free snacks, yogurt and haagen daz in case you have a late night craving .

                                The donuts were simple, cinnamon and warm - I wish I could get them here!