Not all donuts have to be round. I guess this is a fairly obvious statement considering that most would consider an éclair a form of donut. And a donut stick - of course it’s a donut – it’s called a donut stick. But I think it can be hard to break from the round donut convention. With few exceptions, ask anyone to draw a donut and you’re likely to get the standard Homer Simpson ring-with-either-pink-or-white-frosting. This actually brings up an interesting point, because technically one could just draw a circle, representing a filled donut. But this would never happen. A circle just doesn’t represent the holey donut ideal that’s developed in modern day America over the last century. But Blognut refuses to limit ourselves to such convention. We’ve come up with a simple checklist outlining what qualifies something as a donut (keep in mind that this is our definition of a donut, and that other donut-lovers might take issue with the criteria listed below):
A donut/doughnut must be:
1) Made primarily of fried dough
2) At least partially sweet (Blognut does not abide by the Eastern European philosophy that a donut can be savory – if something has sausage and cheese in it, it’s probably not a donut)
3) Of manageable shape - any manageable shape, round or not (A donut must be palm-able and conducive to eating it on the go. Anything requiring a plate or a fork (ie, funnel cake) is not a donut, a controversial view, I know)
In accordance with the above criteria, the item featured in this post is most definitely a donut.
Friday afternoon: After a produce-infused stroll through the Union Square Farmer’s Market, Blognut heads down 17th Street anxious to cram a Cuban press from Havana Central. And we do just that. Definitely one of the better Cubans we’ve had in NYC, Havana’s Classic Cuban Sandwich consists of smoked ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. It’s not too greasy and comes with just-sweet-enough sweet potato fries. But why, do you ask, is Blognut writing about a Cuban restaurant? The answer lies in a star-shaped stick of fried dough named after the horns on a breed of Spanish sheep.
Churros are elongated, fried pasties that originated in Spain and have become popular in Latin America, the US and much of the Caribbean. They get their star shape by being extruded through a cooking syringe called a churrera. They are often referred to as Mexican Doughnuts and are generally coated in either cinnamon, sugar or both. Many churro-eaters abide by the combination of chocolate con churros, in which the churro is dunked in cup of hot chocolate, but in the US they are often dipped in either melted chocolate or caramel.
Havana Central’s Churros are coated in cinnamon and sugar and come with both chocolate and caramel (dolce de leche) dipping sauces. They really are weird looking. There’s something about the 8-point star shape that seems too unnatural to eat. But one bite and we forgive them for their odd appearance. The good thing about Havana's Nuts, is that while they’re crispy on the outside (as they should be), the center retains a moist, barely-cooked quality that is often lacking in churros (especially the ones sold street-side in NYC). A churro should never be so brittle that is easily cracks in half, it should have some give to it. The flavor is packed with cinnamon and sugar and goes great with the dipping sauces. We found that dipping in both chocolate and caramel provided the best taste experience (and it must be in this order, chocolate first, caramel second). By the end the caramel sweetness becomes so powerful that I’m forced to cut it with a pinch of salt on the tongue. Mrs. CPC finds this practice disgusting.
Definitely one of the best International-Nuts we’ve had – right up there with the Loukoumades from Lefkos Pyrgos in Astoria, Queens – Havana Central’s Churros are worth saving room for. Blognut would also like to commend the churro for being a non-conformist when it comes to Donut-Shape, even if they look somewhat odd.
Donut Score: 8.8
22 East 17th Street
New York, NY 10003