Doughnut craze hits D.C.

(Photo: Mike Conneen)

Move over, cupcakes! There's a new food frenzy in town. Gourmet doughnuts are hot this year and several businesses are opening shops over the next few weeks.

Chef Jason Gehring is busy baking and preparing for the launch of Astro Doughnuts in Metro Center this month. Right now, he’s planning 35-40 different flavors. Crème brûlée, PB & J, creamsicle and black hearted love – those are just a few on his menu.

“It's the same sort of chocolate cake doughnut,” said Chef Gehring of his black-hearted love creation. “But I fill it with raspberry jam, raspberry ganache and then a raspberry on top.”

Astro co-owners Elliot Spaisman along with Jeff Halpern, a New York Rangers player, decided their menu would combine doughnut-sweetness with the savory of fried chicken.

“It's kind of a play-off chicken and waffles,” explained Elliot Spaisman. “And people, they like them both so why not combine them.”

But it's the DOUGHNUTS that are driving this culinary craze. Zeke's Donutz just opened near Dupont Circle. Golden Brown Delicious will soon set up shop around the corner. And District Doughnut plans to open a store in Eastern Market this summer. District Doughnuts co-owner Juan Pablo Segura says a majority of its recipes come from desserts that have been deconstructed into doughnuts.

“I think if it's dessert, it's a treat,” said Christine Schaefer, District Doughnut chef. “So you gotta go big or go home.”

With prices ranging up to $31 for a dozen, business owners can make some serious dough making doughnuts.

Depending on the variety, Astro Doughnuts cost between $2.25 and $2.85 each, with a dozen costing between $24.75 and $31.35 (the 12th doughnut is provided free). District Doughnut currently charges $25 for a dozen.

The question is, will this trend last? Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema says doughnuts are versatile and have a future.

“I think we're tired of cupcakes right now and doughnuts look like they're going to be around for a while,” said Tom Sietsema, Washington Post food critic. “This is just the very beginning of what I think is going to be a very large trend.”