Israel Takes Doughnut Decoration To Dizzying New Heights

"Israel Takes Doughnut Decoration To Dizzying New Heights" was originally published in The Jewish Daily Forward, on December 14, 2017. To curate my articles and recipes in one space, I am republishing it here, just before Chanukah which falls on Dec. 10 this year. Head over to The Forward to view the stunning doughnut gallery I couldn't publish here due to copyright issues. 

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Israel Takes Doughnut Decoration To Dizzying New Heights

Just before Hanukkah each year, doughnut collections are released in Israel as if they were haute couture Parisienne fashion. The humble Israeli jelly-filled doughnut dusted with powdered sugar has evolved over the last decade or two into doughnuts with show-stopping glazes, decorations, and gimmicks — and palate-tantalizing flavors.

The doughnut evolution was undeniable when the “chaser doughnuts” gimmick swept the Israeli market. Chasers are syringes filled with flavored creams and coulis that are stuck into the doughnuts. This year’s chaser doughnuts include a raspberry coulis chaser in the cheesecake strawberry doughnut at Tatti (just outside Tel Aviv), a tropical chaser in a cheesecake doughnut and a caramel filled syringe in the ‘Pecan-iliya’ doughnut at Roladin.

Roladin, a leading bakery with multiple locations throughout Israel, launched a mega media campaign with billboards plastered all over the country with images of models displaying doughnuts. The models wear elaborate costumes and high-fashion makeup — in green for the “Green Queen,” a pistachio cream doughnut with white chocolate, and in red for the classic strawberry one. In November, Roladin previewed its new doughnut collection and gave away free doughnuts for one day at its Ibn Gvirol, Tel Aviv location.

In the Jerusalem-themed doughnuts project, sanctioned by the city of Jerusalem as part of a city-wide golden jubilee (semi-centennial) Hanukkah festival, a collaboration between Angel Bakery and Midnight Steak produced a savory mixed grill doughnut. Midnight Steak סטקיית חצות makes the popular grilled offal (hearts, livers, gizzards, spleens), commonly known as “Jerusalem mixed grill,” with its secret spice mix. It’s usually served stuffed in a pita and drizzled with tahini, amba (Iraqi mango pickle) and green or red spicy sauce. For Hanukkah, the brainchild of these two iconic Jerusalem institutions is Midnight Steak’s Jerusalem mixed grill in Angel Bakery’s doughnut, which will be served exclusively at Midnight Steak restaurant in Shuk Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem.

A “Cotton Candy” cronut is a part of The Showroom Bakehouse’s “Luna Park”-themed doughnut collection. It pays a very pleasing homage to New York’s Dominique Ansel’s cronut, with pink strawberry vanilla mascarpone and blue cotton candy on top. The Showroom Bakehouse has a storefront by Rabin Square and a Hanukkah pop-up at Sarona Market in Tel Aviv.

Last year, Biscotti (just outside Tel Aviv) launched a doughnut collection inspired by childhood flavors. One of its highlight was the “Bamba” doughnut. Bamba, a quintessential Israeli peanut snack, is now sold at Traders Joe’s and soon enough will be a household staple in American homes too. This year the peanut theme carries over in the pretzel, or begale as Israelis call it: a doughnut with caramel, and glazed with peanut butter ganache which is a part of Biscotti’s 2017 crunchy themed doughnut collection.

A 300 NIS ($28) doughnut glazed in 24-karat edible gold at Dudu Automezgin Patisserie (multiple locations) is clearly controversial. Gold stock exchange rates aside, it was neither aesthetically pleasing nor refined. YOLO GOLD, a Roladin doughnut, inspired by a chocolate pudding snack by the same name, is a chocolate, hazelnuts and praline doughnut with touches of mini gold leaves, selling for 11 NIS (a little over $3).

There was even a call on social media for participants in a country-fair-hot-dog-eating-like contest, only with doughnuts. But for those who are sentimental, it takes only one classic Israeli jelly doughnut to satisfy the soul.

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