Thursday, January 29, 2009
Valentine Krispy Kreme Donuts (Japan only)
Before all the Krispy Kreme haters jump on the soap boxes and start to talk about how bad the donuts are or how they are the nutritional scourge of all human civilization, and how I am a total idiot for forking over my hard-earned cash for buying these, let me say that they were a gift. Personally, the only Krispy Kremes I like are the original glazed, and even then occasionally. I actually like Mister Donut more, though I can't say that I eat donuts often or am an aficionado of them necessarily. No, my husband is the one who adores donuts. He even dreams about them from time to time, but that's a story for an entirely other sort of blog.
These donuts are on sale at Krisipy Kreme branches in Japan from January 21 to March 14. The reason the sale ends so late is because of the clever way in which Valentine's Day was essentially cleaved in two as a sweets buying fest. The Japanese have women give men sweets on February 14 and the men give women sweets on March 14 for "White Day." The donuts are meant to cover all the available holiday sweet treats territory so that Krispy Kreme doesn't have to come up with any more specialty items.
The donut on the left is a "mocha chocolate heart". It didn't fare very well in transit. You can see that the whipped cream frosting smeared all over the wax paper that was meant to keep it safe and sound. The topping is bitter chocolate cookie "crunch". The truth is that it isn't very crunchy or very bitter, but rather more firm and soft. It's like stale cookies. The frosting is coffee-flavored whipped cream and the streaks of brown coating are just some sort of coffee flavored white chocolate stuff.
The mocha chocolate heart smells like coffee and caramel, though there is no caramel in it. It's not very sweet and has a mild coffee flavor and no chocolate flavor that I could detect. I didn't take a picture of the inside of the donut because there's nothing in there but more donut. This is pretty "bready", though the yeast donut flavor certainly isn't bad. I like whipped cream-based frosting, but this was all texture and little taste. While I have no issues with a less sweet donut, I wish the flavors were more multi-layered and/or intense. I will note that a round version of this particular mix of ingredients was available at some point in Krispy Kreme Japan's history, and it was just as unimpressive in its previous incarnation.
The donut on the right is a "strawberry double heart." The pink coating, which is also like a colored white chocolate in that it is firm rather than soft like frosting or icing, is made with Polish senga sengana strawberries as are the little freeze dried bits of strawberry on one side. There's a white chocolate heart stuck on the right side, which is where the "double heart" name comes from. This donut smelled of strawberry in a good way. It also had a reasonable though relatively weak strawberry flavor including a hint of tartness. The underlying donut was fresh and yeasty, but, again, there is no filling in it. This is definitely the better of these two donuts.
Both of these donuts are 180 yen (about $2) each and not bad as long as they are fresh. However, the flavor is just really weak on both of them and the textural elements pretty "blah". I wouldn't buy these and I wouldn't recommend them over other types of more flavorful donuts from Krispy Kreme. These are clearly made for style over substance, and the mocha one seriously does not travel well, so it's unlikely to look pretty for a recipient.
Most baked goods with any sort of glaze or frosting have been altered to reduce the sugar and increase the fat for the Japanese market. One of the reasons that Japanese sweets are sometimes as high or higher in calories than American sweets despite having less sugar is the higher fat content of those sweets. Sugar, like salt, can intensify and carry flavor (which is why humans tend to like sugary and salty things). If you reduce the sugar, you've got to enhance flavor through other methods and that so often doesn't happen in Japan and Krispy Kreme joins a long line of pastry makers who haven't adjusted the flavor profile while reducing the sugar.