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Jul 21 2013
Pastry’s Corner- The Showdown: Key Lime Donuts


Summer is in full swing and in the donut world, that means it’s time for a new seasonal donut.

Fall brings us pumpkin, winter usually means mint chocolate or ginger bread, but what about summer?  Besides a shirtless Dan Pastry? Well, summer means key lime pie flavored donuts.

While it might be an acquired taste for some, I love a good key lime pie.  So when I saw the key lime donuts were out, I made a beeline for a couple old friends and a new kid on the block to prepare for a donut showdown! So let’s give these key lime donuts their day in court, if you please.

Dunkin’ Donuts 

Dunkin Key LimeFirst up is the big dog of the donut industry, good old Dunkin’ Donuts.  Dunkin’ Donuts has become a coffee stop for lots of people, but don’t you dare ignore the donuts.  DON’T.  YOU.  DARE.  I stopped in the other day and found not just the key lime flavored donut, but Dunkin’ also was offering a lemonade donut (which I highly recommend). However, we are here today for key lime so let’s and get to it.

Dunkin’ Donuts press release describes the donut as “featuring a yeast shell, filled with key lime flavored filling, frosted with white icing and finished with a graham cracker topping.”  Like music to a pastry fan’s ears.  Right off the bat I really liked the donut, the key lime jelly filling was tart and the white icing acted as the whipped cream you’d find on a slice of pie which makes for a nice sweet/tart taste.  The crumbled graham cracker topping added a crisp, crunchy texture that mimics the pie crust and helps round out the key lime pie experience in donut form.

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme Key Lime

Next up Dunkin’s arch rival, Krispy Kreme has also released key lime donuts of their own.  From Krispy Kreme’s press release:  “Summer sweetness is now in season with our two new sun-kissed and handpicked Key Lime treats.”  The two offerings: the Key Lime Cake donut: “key lime cake doughnut topped with key lime cream cheese icing and a KREME dollop,”  and the Key Lime Cheesecake donut: “filled with key lime cheesecake, topped with key lime cream cheese icing and graham cracker crust crumbles.”

To keep the playing field leveled, I’ll just be reviewing the Key Lime Cheesecake donut since our other contestants offer no other cake comparisons. However, know this, intrepid pastry travelers: you have options.

Back to the big news here, a cheesecake filled donut?   You got that right, and it’s damned good.   I firmly believe that Krispy Kreme makes the best yeast raised donut, and that’s what the shell of this little beauty is. Fill that with key lime cheesecake and that’s about as good as it gets. Now, I didn’t taste any key lime flavor in the icing, it basically tasted like white icing.  That’s not a bad thing though, as with the Dunkin’ key lime donut, the icing acts as the whipped cream on the pie and the graham cracker crumb topping adds a good crunchy texture.  It’s an overall flavor combination that’s hard to beat.

Golden Brown Delicious

GBD Key LimeFor a long time DC seemed to be the cupcake capital of the world.   However in the past year we have had a donut revolution and one of the newest places in town is Golden Brown Delicious: Fried Chicken and Fresh Donuts.  Maybe you missed that: fried chicken and donuts!!!!!!  Two amazing fried foods in one place, genius!

GBD is an upscale donut place, there is a pastry chef in-house, creating lots of donut varieties made with fresh ingredients.  Options change daily but some donut examples include: coffee cake, devil’s food, chocolate cream filled brioche, bourbon butterscotch glazed, and key lime.

I unknowingly stopped in one day and to my surprise there it was: the key lime flavored donut.  After I finished openly weeping tears of joy, I tasted the donut and all I can say is “Wow!”   As you can see, this is a filled square donut.  That means the filling is injected into all four sides of the donut, so you get filling with every bite (which doesn’t always happen with round donuts).  Let me tell you, those bites pack a tart punch.  That’s real key lime in there (key limes are tarter than what you find at the local grocer) and the last time I tasted key lime that strong I was in Florida.  The donut also has a glaze instead of icing and you can see lime zest in the glaze.  The one thing missing is the graham cracker crumble that the other two contenders have.

The Verdict:

All three donuts are great, but I have to give this one to Krispy Kreme’s Key Lime Cheesecake donut.  The cheesecake key lime filling was outstanding and the graham cracker crumble on top was the perfect texture for the donut (a little crunchy, but not too crisp) plus the donut is so light and fluffy, the reason we all love the regular Krispy Kreme glazed donut.


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