Is there anything as satisfying as a warm doughnut? Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and deep-fat-fried to boot. Sweet, crunchy, and fatty, it’s no wonder doughnuts are Homer Simpson’s preferred form of sustenance.
But as American as the doughnut is, we have no national patent on deep-fried desserts. France has its beignets, Spain its churros, Italy its zeppole and, of course, England its deep-fried Mars Bars. Even those wacky molecular gastronomists are getting into the act, deep frying anything that doesn’t run fast enough (see Harvest on Hudson’s deep-fried tapioca pudding, page 65). In fact, in today’s pastry kitchen, the Frialator is as important as the rolling pin.
This trend isn’t going anywhere, so you might as well stop fighting it. And, of course, you know you want them. Here are Westchester’s top deep-fried desserts.
country doughnuts with house-made cinnamon ice cream and caramel sauce
WHERE Plates, 121 Myrtle Blvd, Larchmont (914) 834-1244; www.platesonthepark.com
WHY Heaven-scented and gritty with cinnamon sugar, these warm, very crisp golden rings will have you fending off your table-mates with one arm as you wield your fork with the other. The dish comes perfectly paired with subtly cinnamon-tinged ice cream, which provides a cold, mild contrast to the meaty, American-style doughnuts—just like a frosty glass of milk. The only regret? You can’t dunk.
churros with venezuelan chocolate sauce
WHERE Sonora, 179 Rectory St, Port Chester (914) 933-0200; www.sonorany.com
WHY These ridged batons of extruded deliciousness arrive stacked and paired with two dipping sauces: bitter Venezuelan chocolate and fuchsia mora (blackberry). Each offers a different evocation. Dip your churro into the mora sauce, and you have a sophisticated take on a jelly doughnut, or dip it into the other for a not-too-sweet chocolate-frosted treat. And if that’s not enough, the warm churros arrive with a cold scoop of dulce de leche ice cream and two dulce de leche cookies.
fried semolina cake with fresh, locally grown strawberries, and strawberry sorbet
WHERE Blue Hill at Stone Barns, 630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills (914) 366-9600; www.bluehillfarm.com
WHY If a dish is only as good as its ingredients, then this one is as good as it gets. It starts with Anson Mills organic semolina, from Columbia, South Carolina. Anson is popular among several high-profile chefs (including Thomas Keller, Michel Nischan, and Tom Colicchio), because it resurrects long-forgotten varieties of heirloom, antebellum grains and raises them organically. Anson’s durum wheat yields the flavorful, coarse-ground semolina used in Blue Hill’s summery cake, which is deep fried and served with Stone Barns’ newest crop: juicy, sweet, seasonal strawberries. These precious, locally raised berries also star in the dessert’s accompanying house-made sorbet.
Puffy Sugar Doughnuts
WHERE Backals, 2 Weaver St, Scarsdale (914) 722-4508; www.backals.com
WHY “Puffy” and “sugar” are the key descriptors in this dessert. Each airy, star-shaped cloud comes dredged in crystalline superfine sugar, which leaves it as glittering white and airy-light as a snowflake. The greaseless donuts are paired with two dipping sauces, tangy mixed berry and creamy milk chocolate. While the sauces are interactive and tasty, the donuts are just as good by themselves: warm, sweet, and almost impossibly airy, they’re tinged with the subtle notes of orange zest and vanilla beans.
beignets au chocolat
WHERE Buffet De La Gare, 155 Southside Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson (914) 478-1671; www.buffetdelagare.us
WHY These ingenious, torpedo-shaped clouds are made with a combination brioche/croissant dough so shatteringly crisp that you’ll think it’s a batter. Plus, each warm self-handled treat hides a surprising center of melted Valrhona chocolate. Grab its handle and dunk one into its warm dipping sauce of dark, intense caramel. This beignet is so good that you won’t even mind when it explodes onto your best shirt.
fried tapioca pudding with vanilla crème anglaise and pomegranate gastrique
WHERE Harvest-on-Hudson, 1 River St, Hastings on Hudson (914) 478-2800; www.harvest2000.com
WHY When you crack into the firm, very crisp shell of this surprising dessert, it yields to reveal the ultimate comfort food—warm, creamy tapioca pearls tinged with vanilla and coconut. Resting on a pool of silken crème anglaise, this dreamy pudding is brightened with the fruity acid of Lebanese pomegranate syrup and tangy, gem-like pomegranate seeds.
WHERE Mulino’s of Westchester, 99 Court St, White Plains (914) 761-1818; www.mulinos.us
WHY Mulino’s is rescuing the zeppole from its down-market boardwalk past. Here, the fairground staple returns to its elegant Neapolitan roots with a batter made with fresh ricotta cheese. The mild, sweet curds lend a satisfying chewiness to the Italian doughnuts without adding extra weight: after one of these, you’ll never succumb to leaden boardwalk zeppole again.
pineapple tempura with caramelized pineapples and ginger-scented pineapple broth
WHERE Equus, 400 Benedict Ave, Tarrytown
(914) 631-3646; www.castleonthehudson.com
WHY Of all our deep-fried desserts, Chef David Haviland’s dish is the most brightly flavored. In it, we see the versatile pineapple cooked with four different methods, achieving four very different flavor profiles. Light, almost savory, battered pineapple slices rest above a sweet-hot dessert soup of pineapple juice and spicy ginger. Then, a disk of golden, sticky caramelized pineapples form the base for a dehydrated pineapple slice and subtly flavored pineapple whipped cream. This light, refreshing, and totally uncloying dessert is the perfect end to a big meal—one eaten, of course, enjoying Equus’s stellar view.
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