Although Santa Cruz boasts its fair share of donut shops, new wave donuts are a trend that hasn’t really taken hold locally yet.
Visit your neighborhood purveyor of glazed and jelly-filled delights and you’re likely to face the same deliberations you have since you were a kid. Maybe you don’t need to fix what isn’t broken, as most shops have so far been resistant to tinker with traditional recipes in order to create playful modern iterations à la Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut and Bluestar Donuts.
Dunlap’s Donuts is the exception. The Pleasure Point shop is beginning to dip its toes into the deep waters of donut exploration. On the weekends, they load their display case with oversized donuts topped with sugary breakfast cereal, crushed cookies and candy—think Fruity Pebbles, Girl Scout “Samoas” and M&Ms. Others are drizzled with dessert-inspired glazes like mint chip and red velvet cake. They even have a s’more donut finished with crushed graham cracker and toasted marshmallow fluff and crowned with a chunk of Hershey’s chocolate bar. They’re totally over-the-top, undeniably fun and definitely Instagram-worthy, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Compared to those decadent creations, Dunlap’s cronut looks almost humble. Yes, I said cronut—that croissant-doughnut hybrid that made headlines in 2013 when pastry chef Dominique Ansel began offering it at his New York City bakery. For months after its initial release, lines stretched down the block hours before the bakery opened. The craze led to a Craigslist-based black market where cronuts sold for $20 to $40 a piece, launching the cronut into infamy.
Dunlap’s version—they call it a ‘dossant’—is delicious. Fried to a deep brown and either dusted with sugar or finished with a simple glaze shining on its many layers, the textural delight of sinking your teeth through the flaky, croissant-like interior is luxurious. I also find that peeling off each individual layer like it’s part monkey-bread is equally fun. Despite its creation story, the cronut doesn’t feel gimmicky, but rather like two friends who finally started dating and everyone agreed that the pair “made sense.” I sense that a new classic has been born. 3791 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz. Open seven days a week 5 a.m.-4 p.m., and at 5:30 a.m. on Sundays.