Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

September 26, 2021
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Designer doughuts

Forget glazed: we’re talking minty mojito icing, toffee and chopped bacon

Mac n’ cheese, meatballs, cupcakes and now doughnuts — all things humble and homey are getting that haute cuisine makeover in restaurant kitchens.

Designer doughnuts are on the rise across North America, with some of the most creative Canadian chefs topping doughnuts with minty mojito icing, filling peanut butter beignets with mashed bananas, glazing doughnuts with sticky toffee and chopped bacon and even serving sweet doughnuts with slices of seared foie gras.

While Americans are in the lead when it comes to the designer doughnut (or donut) trend, Canadians may be even more obsessed with their sweet deep-fried snacks. Some have dubbed the doughnut Canada’s unofficial national food.

“Now, of course, I know that they’re not created here; but they’ve been perfected here,” writes Steve Penfold in The Donut: A Canadian History, “and it’s part of our national identity.”

In fact, it’s easier to get a Timbit than a Big Mac in Canada. The popular Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut empire—founded in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1964 by NHL hockey player Tim Horton has over 3000 shops across the country — that's more locations than McDonald’s.

On the designer side, Canadian chefs are relatively conservative when it comes to their gourmet doughnuts.

Prince Edward Island-based TV chef Michael Smith tosses freshly fried doughnuts with sugar and cinnamon, and food writer Lucy Waverman makes bread pudding with doughnuts.

Chuck Hughes of Garde-Manger (408 St-François-Xavier; tel: 514-678-5044) in Old Montreal is a fan of doughnuts with decadent fillings like dark chocolate ganache with caramel fleur de sel, or cream cheese and whipped cream toppings. Over in Montreal's Mile End, Chef Marc Cohen of Lawrence (5201 St-Laurent Boulevard; tel: 514-503-1070) carries on the Brit comfort food brunches with his tasty piping hot beignets, sugared or filled with chocolate.

Toronto chef Jamie Kennedy at Gilead Cafe (4 Gilead Place Toronto; tel: 647-288-0680; got creative, offering local Perth Pork fricassee, made with apple cider and cream, atop a yeast-raised potato-and-apple doughnut. And the hip Drake Hotel (1150 Queen Street West, Toronto; tel: 416-531-5042; is known for its classic coconut-cream crullers.

Jason Parsons, the chef at Peller Estates Winery Restaurant ( in Niagara-on-the-Lake really took the cake with his riff on the Timbit - sage-and-feuilletine-crusted foie gras doughnuts with mushroom-and-white chocolate cappuccino—to be paired with an icewine couvée.

Calgary’s CHARCUT once offered baby bombolone (Italian dougnuts) oozing homemade chocolate hazelnut paste — no longer on the menu, but memorable. The hottest new ice cream flavour from Alberta-based MacKay’s Cochrane Ice Cream ( is “mini doughnut” — that classic summer midway aroma and flavour in a cone available only during the Stampede in Calgary.

Lee’s Donuts (1689 Johnston Street; tel: 604-685-4021) at Granville Island Public Market are old-fashioned favourites in Vancouver, BC.

While we still love those basic “glazeds” and long johns from Timmie Ho’s, there’s always room for creativity.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.


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