REVIEW: Hostess Cinnamon Sugar Crunch Donettes

As a weekly host and attendee of Cinnasluts Anonymous meetings I’m always on the hunt for new ways to get my fix. I’ve got four different types of cinnamon on hand to sprinkle on everything from fruit to chicken to vegetables, and of course a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cinnamon Bun Oreo’s, a couple stocked bags of Cheetos Sweetos, some apple cinnamon yogurt, a bottle of Pepsi Fire…and the list goes on and on. As I was perusing the grocery store to stockpile more cinna-goodies my body came to a jolting stop right after passing the cinnamon swirl bread and into the snack cakes…Cinnamon Sugar Crunch Donettes. That’s right, Hostess have put a spicy spin on their tasty crunch mini donuts, and to be honest it’s such an obvious twist I can’t believe this hasn’t already been done.

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Opening the tall white bag it’s no surprise I’m greeted by a sweet wafting cinnamon sugar smell that is fresh and lovely. The donuts look soft and glisten with a locked in moisture that is a great sign for $2 grocery ‘nuts.

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Biting in the two stated flavors, cinnamon and sugar, and very well represented and lean towards the sugar with a nice crystallized crunch, completing the trinity of living up to their names’ description. The prominent flavor is sweet, but the lovely aromatic spiciness of cinnamon lingers in the back and keeps them from being too sugary. While I love a good punchy, almost spicy hot cinnamon, the balance here is spot on and reminds me of a well executed streusel crumble on top of an apple crisp.

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The texture inside is soft and moist and tastes very fresh. The donette doesn’t crumble at all and has a perfect squish as I chew that works well with the sweet crunchy exterior. These are basically exactly like the classic coconut-leaning Crunch Donettes but with cinnamon, which makes them automatically better, and feel much more authentic to a real donut than a gas station pick-me-up.

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I always loved the straight forward cinnamon sugar cake donuts at mom ’n pop shops for their simple flavors and emphasis on the crispy cake-y dough. They were also the most successful donut I ever made the few times I tried going from scratch at home, and as a result they will forever hold a special place in my heart. While these donettes aren’t as good as the real deal, they’re closer than any other variety I’ve had from Hostess, Little Debbie, or TastyKake at channeling the classic flavors of a bare bones donut shop, and they don’t taste cheap or artificial at all. Whether you love cinnamon or just a quick fix to go with your morning cup, these are one of the strongest baby cakes you can buy.

Rating: 9/10
Found at: Walmart ($2.00)

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REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Frosted Strawberry Donettes

There’s something appealing about mini things. Mini cupcakes, mini peanut butter cups, personal pizzas, sneaky baby bottles of booze…and, donuts, or, Donettes, as Hostess appropriately calls them. These miniature tire-esque circles of sugary delight have always tempted me, and what better time to be lured by temptation than the season of love? To help get our love juices flowing, Hostess have injected their already aphrodisiac-laden chocolate Donettes with another aphro-treat – strawberry, for a fiery start to your Valentine’s Day morning.

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Biting in there is a predominantly sweet but slightly tart strawberry flavor that breaks through the chocolate and stands out pretty powerfully on its own. The two flavors compliment each other well, with the bite beginning on chocolate and gradually transforming to berry, leaving a distinctly artificial strawberry presence on the tongue.  While the taste is artificial and candy-like in nature it isn’t too overwhelmingly sweet, which would have made it difficult to eat more than one or two (not a problem).  Fake strawberry tends to be more agreeable and easily executed than cherry, and these little dough balls are no exception.

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The strongest element of this Donette is its texture. The outside, while still having that classic Hostess waxy element to it, is incredibly soft and thin, giving an airy snap when chewing.  That outer coating is a very distinct texture that for whatever reason works better on mini donuts than any other kind of snack cake.  The inside is very moist, and may be the freshest tasting Donette I’ve ever had from Hostess.  This could be the seasonal advantage of buying a limited item close to its release, as the expiration is still six weeks away and I’m reaping the benefits, or it could just be the luck of the draw with this particular batch.

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Is this a better junky nosh than the classic chocolate frosted Donette with the yellow inside? Nope, not for me; but it is a solid limited release that is much more worthy of burning your calories than even some of the standard editions, like Glazed. It’s got that breakfast cereal-y, Sunday morning strawberry pop that you will find either nostalgic or gross, but for $2 on sale at Target it’s hard to go wrong if you find the plump little fake chocolate ‘nuts as comforting and strangely delicious as I do.

Rating: 7/10

REVIEW: Doughbar Doughnuts (feat. Junk Banter Variety Pack)

Doughbar Doughnuts are a Bay Area based company cranking out made to order protein packed baked donuts with a slew of fun and limited offering toppings and variety packs shipped straight to your door.  Their goal is to offer a macro-friendly alternative to the often frowned upon fried treat that is versatile, healthy, and delicious all at the same time.  The un-dressed donuts, including the hole, clock in at 150 calories, 4 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbs, 3 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.  You can order the donuts with no toppings, or, more commonly, with toppings packaged individually that you put on yourself in whatever fashion you’d like.  For my first run with Doughbar I ordered the Junk Banter variety pack, which included four donuts and toppings for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Cookie Monster (Chips Ahoy/Oreo), Cinnamon with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Nutella with Kit Kat pieces.

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The naked base flavor of a Doughbar Doughnut is relatively plain with a yeasty whole wheat bounce, slight sweetness, and a hint of cinnamon.  The texture is more like a bagel than a donut, with an eggy dense inside that is neither super delicious or offensive.  Since they are baked and not fried there is no outside crisp or greasiness, and as with most donuts, “real” or otherwise, most of the flavor comes from the toppings.  The success of the doughnuts themselves varied based not only on the toppings but the actual bake itself.  Since they’re all individually made I found some of them to be a little bit thinner and darker with a tougher, less-dount-y texture, and some of them to be fluffier and lighter in color, which much more closely resembled a true donut.

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The experience of putting the doughnuts together is pretty damn fun.  They arrive in a nostalgia-laden pink box with each component clearly labeled and packaged so you can truly choose your own destiny.  All of the toppings have their own nutritional information provided, and while the icing containers looked really small to me at first, they actually do provide enough to piece together a pretty tasty breakfast treat.

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I enjoyed all of the doughnuts that I got but by far my favorite was the Nutella with Kit Kat crumbles.  I’m not sure if it was the slight nuttiness in the glaze or the luck of the fluff on that particular ‘nut but it gave me the most satisfying donut fix of them all.  My least favorite was very surprisingly the Reese’s-inspired peanut butter one, because I felt it just didn’t have enough authentic peanut butter flavor.  Luckily, I had a couple of extra naked donuts and put together my own decadent masterpiece using their classic doughnut glaze, crunchy peanut butter, and banana.

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PB Banana Doughnut: 320 Cals/10g Fat/11g Sugar/30g Carbs/15g Protein

All in all, are Doughbar Doughnuts better than one from your local shop or Krispy Kreme?  Nah.  But are they a fun switch up from a protein bar or shake or carb-heavy weekend breakfast?  Most certainly.  The ability to customize and switch things up on the go is definitely a plus and I look forward to ordering again when time and money will allow.  Hopefully this small creative company can get wider distribution and/or a brick and mortar location so we can all “eat more hole foods” on the regular.

Rating: 8/10

REVIEW: Tastykake Gingerbread Mini Donuts

There’s nothing quite like a powdered mini donut.  Packaged in a roll of six from a dark vending machine or lonely gas station, the tube of sugary delight never fails to deliver a messy Scarface-like experience of pure sweetness.  The only problem with these types of donuts is that despite their fun fluffy texture they’re relatively one dimensional when it comes to flavor – straight sugar.  Just in time for the holidays Tastykake have solved this issue with Gingerbread Mini Donuts.

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Unlike their lighter-colored year round sibling, the gingerbread version of Tastykake’s donuts deliver a wallop of spicy layers to back up their already perfect bouncy texture.  Rather than being covered in a dusting of powdered sugar, these donuts are taken up a notch with a robust shaking of ginger and cinnamon that erupts from the bag and translates just as convincingly to the tongue.  You don’t have to search for any traces of gingerbread as you can see the specks of brown all over the donut and the flavors completely smack you in the face to finish with spice-dominance that makes me think they used cloves in the mix as well.  The ginger here isn’t the raw ginger that tingles in your nose, but more of a ground ginger blended with cinnamon that meshes perfectly with the powdered sugar to create the ideal seasonal spice.

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Additionally, the clever snack-ologists at Tastykake have put some kind of spice into the donut dough as well, as you can see little brown dots mixed in with a darker-than-usual cake that hints more towards tan than yellow.

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The two-toned punch of spiced cake and spiced powder makes these incredibly successful and a worthy shakeup from the usual donette.  Whether it be Tastykake or Hostess or Little Debbie I’ve never found any flavors of mini donuts to be truly worth it aside from the classic powdered or chocolate, but these ones give both of those a run for their money.  More complex than any that have come before them but equally satisfying in their junky splendor, these Gingerbread ‘nuts are a slam dunk worthy of your Christmas calories.

Rating: 8/10