Posts Tagged ‘sweets’

It’s not always bad news…

Reason #40- Donuts

I know, I know, I already used the topic of “Chocolate” in this series.  Since donuts come in more types and flavors than chocolate, and, after all, they are their own food group, donuts are the bomb and deserve their own reason for happiness.

My earliest recollection of fresh-baked donuts came when I was around 8 or 9 years old in Southern California.  Back then there was a bread company, Weber, that delivered bread and pastries on routes throughout the region.  Later, Helm’s Bakery would continue the service.  Like the ice cream man and more accessible than Santa Claus, the bread truck was something all the kids in the neighborhood eagerly awaited.  We saved our allowance for every Saturday during the school year and every day in the summer.

Once seen, we would race inside to grab our change and gather in one front yard or another, waving our arms until he stopped.  Some mothers would come out and buy a few loaves of fresh bread and then it was our turn.  He would pull out the four-foot-wide drawer holding the sweet goods in the back of the truck and the smell of fresh baked goods would ignite a frenzy.  For a dime we could buy what seemed like a giant glazed donut, still warm and glaze dripping when he handed it to us in a wax paper liner.  Life was good.

Supermarkets eventually put food delivery services, like bread and milk, out of business, and, for a long time, fresh donuts (or the quaint “doughnuts”) were only really available if you fried them yourselves.  Whether you are making cake or yeast (rising) donuts, what sets them apart from other pastries is that you deep fry them instead of baking.  For decades the best dessert-moms made donuts with a variety of toppings.  I remember helping my mother by taking a small paper sack, dumping in either powdered sugar or a mix of white sugar and cinnamon, tossing in one sizzling donut at a time and shaking the sack, now hot from the donut’s frying grease, and placing each on a plate, one after another.  Heaven. Donut shops and their mass production methods didn’t measure up to the bread trucks, grocery store bakeries or mom’s kitchen, but were still a desirable option.  Over the years, regional and national chains got better through competition and innovation, and in the past 10 years a renaissance of sorts in donut shops has raised the quality to new heights.  From L.A.’s famous drive-through Randy’s Donuts (or the Donut Hole in our town), through Winchell’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, to the Canadian and Northeastern Tim Hortons, to the ever-popular Krispy Kreme and Daylight Donuts, and ending up with the current chains of Voodoo Donuts and Astro Donuts and Chicken, the number of extremely good donut locations are still on the rise, pun intended.

In traveling around America, we can say with confidence that Texas is the donut capital of the U.S.  Almost any town there with a post office and a gas station has at least one mom-and-pop donut shop, and most have several.  Like pizza in Chicago or wings in Buffalo, if you don’t make great donuts in Texas, you won’t stay in business.  The only drawback is that you must watch your intake or your weight will definitely suffer.

Everyone has one or more favorite types of donut.  Mine are chocolate-iced glazed and chocolate bars.  Nadyne favored white-frosted vanilla cake donuts with sprinkles and regular glazed.  You may like your raised donuts glazed, crème-filled, custard-filled or fruit-filled.  You might crave any number of types of cake donuts, French crullers (or “truck tires”), fruit fritters, long Johns, éclairs, old-fashioned, and let’s not forget about twists.  On top of all of these, you can mix and match recipes, fillings, frostings and toppings.

Regardless of your preference, most people like most donuts, and sometimes any old genre will do.   It’s one of the only food groups that allows that kind of flexibility.  Okay, I know it’s not a real food group, but I rather enjoy my fantasy.


It seems appropriate to finish this topic with a quote from American pastry chef, food writer and YouTube personality, Claire Saffitz, who said, “The first time I ever deep-fried something, I was terrified. I was making yeasted jelly donuts, and I was so nervous that I fried them, unblinking, with a pounding heart and sweaty palms.

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It’s not always bad news…

Reason #18- Chocolate

Devil’s food cake with dark chocolate frosting — that’s my all-time favorite dessert.  Like most people, I’ve had a love affair with the cocoa bean as long as I can remember.  Why do we love chocolate so?

Quora.com explains it this way:  “The basic fact that chocolate tastes good and we enjoy eating it means that the body releases dopamine during chocolate consumption. … Chocolate also contains theobromine, a chemical known to increase heart rate and energy, as well as arousal.”  Dopamine is the same chemical our brains release during sex, an adventurous experience or an especially gregarious laugh.  Enough said.

Lovers give chocolate when jewelry just won’t do.  According to History.com, almost 60 million pounds of chocolate are purchased in the U.S. during Valentine’s Day week, proving an instinctual knowledge that the treat is a very successful way to someone’s heart.  Rich chocolate pairs with red wine splendidly, each enhancing the other and bringing an almost euphoric reaction to the taste.  For good reason, a box of chocolates (“You never know what you’re going to get.”) is a staple for any husband in the doghouse.  Only chocolate or chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream will do for binging after a break-up.  Attend any convention’s social hour and watch the crowd gather around the chocolate fountain with glee.

As much as you might like chocolate, it might be satisfying to know that there are a multitude of health benefits to indulging.  Studies have shown that the flavonoids in chocolate can help keep your veins and arteries supple.  Results also showed that participants in studies who were given several helpings of dark chocolate each week had significantly lowered their risk of heart attacks and strokes.  One study even showed a lower risk of severe sunburn!  Flavanols in hot cocoa provided an increased flow of blood to the brain and improved math skills.  Subjects given bars of dark chocolate were shown to have overall lower LDL cholesterol levels.  One extract from cocoa, lavado, can actually reduce the damage done to vital pathways to the brain by Alzheimer’s disease.  Chocolate can help to lower your blood pressure and increase endorphins, thereby helping prevent depression and other mental disorders.

It’s been proven that white chocolate does not affect the brain the same as its brown counterpart and that you generally don’t crave sweeter chocolate more than other types.  In fact, chocolate that is less sweet also has less calories, and dark, smooth, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate can change your outlook on your whole day.  We also know that having a small portion of dark chocolate can reduce food cravings, potentially saving you from binging on higher calorie treats.

I believe that if Hershey, Ghirardelli and Mars were to all shut down at once, no pandemic could match our collective reaction. Congress would act immediately to stem the crisis and the President would sign whatever bill he or she was presented, partisan politics be damned.


My ending quote for this topic comes from British comedian Tommy Cooper: “My wife said, ‘Take me in your arms and whisper something soft and sweet.’  I said, ‘chocolate fudge.’

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