If I were to brainstorm the myriad amount of ways in which an autumnal delicacy like pumpkin pie could be improved upon, I’m fairly certain deep-frying it would be at the top of the list.
Luckily, Dunkin’ Donuts is saving me from the prospect of attempting such an endeavor in the privacy, but not-completely-covered-by-insurance confines, of my own kitchen by introducing a new Pumpkin Pie Donut as part of their seasonal fall menu. Unlike the classic pumpkin cake donuts, which every grocery store in America features this time of year, the new Pumpkin Pie Donut features a “pumpkin pie flavored, buttercreme-filled yeast shell” that’s topped with white icing and graham cracker crumbles. And because it’s a donut, it is of course caressed by the loving embrace of hot fryer oil.
I tend to appreciate the aesthetic beauty of Dunkin’ Donuts products, although I’ve often found their donuts to be on the small side. This donut is no exception, although I suppose my arteries would appreciate not being subjected to an actual fried pumpkin pie, and instead getting off for a more “modest” 380 calorie donut. In any event, an initial bite of the edges of the donut leaves a lot to be desired; namely in the whole pumpkin pie department.
Perhaps my donut had the unfortunate luck of sitting around in the store for too long, or perhaps I tend to hold my yeast-raised donuts to higher than mass-produced standards, but the plain shell lacked the airy spring of a really good yeast donut, and tasted only of that characteristic dough and nutmeg aftertaste that’s present in most of Dunkin’s donuts.
But who are we kidding? Obviously there’s no reason just to nibble around the yeast shell, no more so than there’s reason to just nibble on the crust of an actual pumpkin pie. We bite into donuts and pies, and what’s the first thing most of us chomp through when it comes to actual pumpkin pie? The whipped cream, of course.
Dunkin’s white icing might share a similar color with the traditional and sweet accouterment to pie, but that’s about all they share. Cloyingly sweet and unnaturally hardened, the icing might work on a sugar cookie, but here the glycerol flavor overpowers and clashes with the doughy interior and buttercreme filling. The graham cracker crumbs were thankfully crunchy and plentiful, but they lacked a distinct cinnamon flavor and instead tasted too much like a boring old frozen pie crust.
The only authentic pumpkin flavor comes from the buttercreme filling. While it’s filled with plenty of questionable ingredients that might not make their way into a traditional buttercream (nothing says homemade like Yellow 5 and Guar Gum!), the faux buttercreme has a delightful pumpkin flavor complete with all those sweet warming spices like cinnamon and ginger. The only problem is that the texture, which dissolves on the tongue like the way Cool Whip would do, is unfulfilling. Speaking of filling or lack thereof, my completely trigonometric challenged eyes estimated the creme only took up about a third of the volume within the shell. That’s like a pie that’s two-thirds crust and only a third filling!
Dunkin’ Donuts had a real opportunity to add to their pumpkin-flavored product line with this donut, but they screwed it up. Maybe they didn’t screw it up as bad as me trying to create a fried pumpkin pie by dropping a frozen Marie Callender’s pie into a Dutch oven of boiling shortening, but definitely to the point of making a donut not worth buying again.
(Nutrition Facts – 380 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 380 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein.)
*Made with partially hydrogenated oil.
Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Donut
Purchased Price: $1.00
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Aesthetically pleasing. Authentic pumpkin flavor in the “buttercreme.” Only a dollar. Not having to attempt to fry a frozen pumpkin pie and burn my home down.
Cons: Cloying white icing that tastes like some chemical I can’t pronounce. Dense and tasteless shell. Graham cracker crumbles lack cinnamon flavor. Poor interior coverage of buttercreme filling. Attempting to apply mathematical concepts to donut fillings.