One of the unwritten but inalienable rights of Americans is to take rare and rich treats and transform them into objects of everyday gluttony.
Take doughnuts for example: A confection originally used on these shores as they had been in Europe—as special treats on holidays—evolved into a lowbrow sugar rush associated with cops and sedentary office slaves.
Of course, one can’t make too many assertions about the history of doughnuts without inviting an academic, culinary fistfight.
Did archeologists really discover fossilized doughnuts on extensive digs in the arid Southwest? Can the lineage of doughnuts be properly traced through Dutch oliekoecken or German Berliner Pfannkuchen? Does the doughnut hole derive from a portly sea captain who wanted a way to nibble his cakes off his ship’s wheel?
Romans, Greeks, Native Americans—the claim to doughnut fame is a contentious battle among a who’s who of ancient cultures.
Maybe it’s fitting then that Santa Fe’s new gourmet doughnut joint is dubbed Whoo’s Donuts. The shop, operated by ChocolateSmith owners Jeff and Kari Keenan, is capitalizing on the less controversial, recent history of the doughnut: its resurgence as a gourmet icon.
Food-frenzied cities such as Portland, Ore., have lines out the door for their famous and creative doughnut shops, but Santa Fe has seen little success among bakers striving to elevate the once-regal treat from the humble lows to which it fell under American appetites.
The last notable doughnut shop in Santa Fe was Kip’s Donuts. The product was delicious but not particularly inventive, and all of the offerings were cake doughnuts. Cake is well and good, but sometimes, nothing will slake your sweet tooth so well as a yeast-risen doughnut.
Risen doughnuts generally contain a little more oil than cake doughnuts because they’re denser and need to be fried for a bit longer, but the heartiness, complex texture and rich flavor are themselves rewarding. And really, if you’re counting fat and calories on your doughnut purchase, you’ve got a problem.
Fortunately, Whoo’s Donuts plans to offer both cake and risen varieties, and many of the glazes, frostings and toppings are ambitious and original.
As a fan of classic glazes and creams—which will be made fresh daily—I’d normally hesitate to order the dark-chocolate-chile-bacon variety, but anyone who has sampled ChocolateSmith’s offerings will be salivating. The prospect of pistachio-lemon ganache—another promised flavor—is keeping me awake at night in advance of the shop’s Friday, Sept. 30 opening.
A typical maneuver here in mañana land would be to make great doughnuts but not open until 10 am. The Keenans, however, know which hours of the morning their bread is buttered on.
Whoo’s will be open daily from 6 am-2 pm.
For coffee drinkers who are used to suffering from the dearth of early morning offerings in Santa Fe, this is the dawn of a new era. The coffee on hand will be Fat Boy Coffee Roasters organic (of Cedar Crest). New Mexico flour and other regionally sourced ingredients are other promised mainstays.
For those like me who eagerly await the opening, Whoo’s is offering free coffee and doughnuts at an evening open house from 5-7 pm Thursday, Sept. 29. But let’s set our rampant American appetites to the side and try not to trample each other.
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