When it comes to donuts, they are usually better when they are fresher. I know a great shop that makes them fresh 24 hours a day and is only a short drive away, and I will head over to pick up a few if I’m having a craving. I was a bit skeptical when I noticed Trader Joe’s Donut Bites in the freezer section on a recent trip to TJ’s, but the brightly colored packaging – and the fact that I can almost always make room for a donut – reeled me in to give them a try.
The Donut Bites are small round donuts that are filled with a fruity raspberry filling. The yeasted donuts come frozen and need to be heated in the oven for a few minutes before serving. They are a bit bigger than your average donut hole, yet smaller than a traditional donut, so I feel like they fall into their own category when it comes to donut-sizing. The donuts heated up evenly (the packaging recommended turning them halfway through the bake, but I found that did not make much of a difference) and were ready in less than 15 minutes. The exterior was crisp, while the filling was soft and warm.
The filling itself is not a jam, but a mixture of raspberries and apples, with carrot and black currant juice added for color. Sugar is also present in the filling, of course, but it is not overly sweet. It is thicker than a jam and has no seeds, so it is very smooth. It is not only very tasty, but it really holds up well inside of the donut without creating too much moisture to soak into the pastry. I would eat more fruit-filled donuts if the fillings tasted like this one!
In the end, donuts baked up well and offered a nice balance of pastry and filling. I liked the fruitiness of the filling quite a bit, especially compared to the overly sweet fruit fillings you find on commercial donuts. The only downside to these is that they weren’t as fluffy as freshly fried donuts. The pastry felt a bit more like fried brioche – which is not a bad thing, mind you – than a cloud-like yeast donut. I almost like them better as a dessert – where they could be paired with whipped cream, ice cream and fresh berries – than with coffee as a breakfast snack. Considering these were frozen, I was very impressed with how they turned out and would eat them again.
The donuts pictured on the box appear to have been rolled in sugar before serving. While it doesn’t mention this step anywhere on the packaging, I found that the donuts were not very sweet on their own and really benefited from a quick roll in sugar when they were hot. They would also be good with a drizzle of glaze or cream cheese icing, to add a bit of extra sweetness.