10 Extremely Creative Doughnuts That Will Make You Drool

Psycho Donuts
Psycho Donuts

Today marks National Doughnut Day. While you may celebrate with your usual glazed or sprinkle variety, it might be worth branching out—doughnut shops around the country often have special flavors they are proud to call their own. Get inspired with some of the most extreme varieties we could find.

1. OLD DIRTY BASTARD

Yelp User Michael S.

Oregon’s Voodoo Doughnuts was one of the first shops to really start going crazy with their doughnut flavors. These days, they are well-known for their partnership with Rogue, creating beers based on doughnut flavors including Bacon Maple Ale and Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Ale. But Voodoo still has its share of extreme doughnuts—including the Old Dirty Bastard, which is covered in chocolate frosting, Oreos and peanut butter. If you’re really hungry, try the Rapper’s Delight, a trio featuring the Old Dirty Bastard, the M&M-covered Marshall Mathers, and the Maple Blazer Blunt, a cone-shaped doughnut with an end dipped in maple frosting and red sprinkle embers.

2. BLUE SKY

Rebel Donut's Facebook Page

New Mexico’s Rebel Donut has a special menu item featuring blue rock candy based on the shop’s favorite show: Breaking Bad. Imagine how happy they were when Aaron Paul (a.k.a. Jesse Pinkman) came in to order a dozen of the Blue Sky donuts and even posed for a picture with the treats.

3. PSYCHOBUGZ

San Jose’s Psycho Donuts celebrated National Donut Day in 2012 by releasing two donuts topped with real insects. The Chirp Derp was a chocolate donut topped with bacon bits, bacon-cheddar crickets, and a drizzle of milk chocolate. The Worm Hole took a jalapeño and tequila donut and covered it with salted lime icing, a Key Lime drizzle, and a spiced moth larvae. (According to their menu, these doughnuts are no longer available.)

4. FOIE BOMB

Psycho Donuts

For 2013's National Doughnut Day, Psycho Donuts aimed to impress their gourmand audience with a foie gras mousse doughnut served with a pipette of honey, fig, and balsamic syrup. (Like psychobugz, the foie bomb is no longer available—but they still have plenty of crazy doughnuts to choose from.)

5. JAGER BOMB

Rebel Donut's Facebook Page

While the Jägermeister buttercream in this Jager Bomb doughnut by Rebel Donut might not get you drunk, it could at least give you a caffeine buzz with the Red Bull glaze. It certainly tastes better than the original cocktail.

6. MOJITO

Mint, sugar, and rum are great inside a cocktail glass, but even better when turned into a doughnut. Best of all, you can even make this tasty treat at home yourself with this recipe from Diethood.

7. DOUGHNUT SHOT GLASS LINERS

If you really want to let loose while still enjoying the goodness of doughnuts, skip the boozy fillings and instead use straight liquor. Just follow this tip by My Burning Kitchen and put a hollowed-out doughnut hole in your shot glass before pouring to enjoy full-strength alcohol with a sweet, doughnut-y finish.

8. DEAD ELVIS

Elvis’s favorite sandwich (made with peanut butter, bacon, bananas, and jelly) is pretty legendary, but when you switch out the bread for a custard-filled doughnut, that’s when you really get something fit for a king. If Elvis is secretly still around, you know he's made a few trips to Psycho Donuts to enjoy the Dead Elvis.

9. MANGO TANGO

Flickr user AJ LEON // CC BY 2.0

You know what makes a regular mango doughnut into something truly memorable? Just ask Voodoo Donuts and you’ll know the answer is always Tang. (Astronauts will love it.)

10. TEXAS-SIZE DOUGHNUT

It might not come in crazy flavors, but the Round Rock Donut from the Round Rock, Texas shop of the same name is certainly extreme enough to have earned its place here. That’s because this doughnut weighs in at over 2 pounds of doughnut-y goodness.

A version of this story originally appeared in 2013.

The Science Behind Brining Your Thanksgiving Turkey

iStock.com/LazingBee
iStock.com/LazingBee

At many Thanksgiving tables, the annual roast turkey is just a vehicle for buttery mash and creamy gravy. But for those who prefer their bird be a main course that can stand on its own without accoutrements, brining is an essential prep step—despite the fact that it requires finding enough room in the fridges to immerse a 20-pound animal in gallons of salt water for days on end. To legions of brining believers, the resulting moist bird is worth the trouble.

How, exactly, does a salty soak yield juicy meat? And what about all the claims from a contingency of dry brine enthusiasts: Will merely rubbing your bird with salt give better results than a wet plunge? For a look at the science behind each process, we tracked down a couple of experts.

First, it's helpful to know why a cooked turkey might turn out dry to begin with. As David Yanisko, a culinary arts professor at the State University of New York at Cobleskill, tells Mental Floss, "Meat is basically made of bundles of muscle fibers wrapped in more muscle fibers. As they cook, they squeeze together and force moisture out," as if you were wringing a wet sock. Hence the incredibly simple equation: less moisture means more dryness. And since the converse is also true, this is where brining comes in.

Your basic brine consists of salt dissolved in water. How much salt doesn't much matter for the moistening process; its quantity only makes your meat and drippings more or less salty. When you immerse your turkey in brine—Ryan Cox, an animal science professor at the University of Minnesota, quaintly calls it a "pickling cover"—you start a process called diffusion. In diffusion, salt moves from the place of its highest concentration to the place where it's less concentrated: from the brine into the turkey.

Salt is an ionic compound—its sodium molecules have a positive charge and its chloride molecules have a negative charge, but they stick together anyway. As the brine penetrates the bird, those salt molecules meet both positively and negatively charged protein molecules in the meat, causing the meat proteins to scatter. Their rearrangement "makes more space between the muscle fibers," Cox tells Mental Floss. "That gives us a broader, more open sponge for water to move into."

The salt also dissolves some of the proteins, which, according to the book Cook's Science by the editors of Cook's Illustrated, creates "a gel that can hold onto even more water." Juiciness, here we come!

There's a catch, though. Brined turkey may be moist, but it can also taste bland—infusing it with salt water is still introducing, well, water, which is a serious flavor diluter. This is where we cue the dry briners. They claim that using salt without water both adds moisture and enhances flavor: win-win.

Turkey being prepared to cook.
iStock

In dry brining, you rub the surface of the turkey with salt and let it sit in a cold place for a few days. Some salt penetrates the meat as it sits—with both dry and wet brining, Cox says this happens at a rate of about 1 inch per week. But in this process, the salt is effective mostly because of osmosis, and that magic occurs in the oven.

"As the turkey cooks, the [contracting] proteins force the liquid out—what would normally be your pan drippings," Yanisko says. The liquid mixes with the salt, both get absorbed or reabsorbed into the turkey and, just as with wet brining, the salt disperses the proteins to make more room for the liquid. Only this time the liquid is meat juices instead of water. Moistness and flavor ensue.

Still, Yanisko admits that he personally sticks with wet brining—"It’s tradition!" His recommended ratio of 1-1/2 cups of kosher salt (which has no added iodine to gunk up the taste) to 1 gallon of water gives off pan drippings too salty for gravy, though, so he makes that separately. Cox also prefers wet brining, but he supplements it with the advanced, expert's addition of injecting some of the solution right into the turkey for what he calls "good dispersal." He likes to use 1-1/2 percent of salt per weight of the bird (the ratio of salt to water doesn't matter), which he says won't overpower the delicate turkey flavor.

Both pros also say tossing some sugar into your brine can help balance flavors—but don't bother with other spices. "Salt and sugar are water soluble," Cox says. "Things like pepper are fat soluble so they won't dissolve in water," meaning their taste will be lost.

But no matter which bird or what method you choose, make sure you don't roast past an internal temperature of 165˚F. Because no brine can save an overcooked turkey.

This piece originally ran in 2017.

5 Holiday Foods That Are Dangerous to Pets

iStock/svetikd
iStock/svetikd

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the menu of indulgent food and drinks that comes along with it. But while you enjoy that cup of spiked hot cocoa, you’ve got to be careful your dog or cat doesn’t nab a lick. Here are five holiday treats that are dangerous for your pets, according to Vetstreet.

1. COFFEE

Any coffee lover will agree that there’s nothing quite like an after-dinner cup of joe on a cold night. But pups, kitties, and other pets will have to sit this tradition out. Caffeine can prompt seizures and abnormal heart rhythms in pets, and can sometimes be fatal. Other caffeinated drinks, such as soda or tea, should also be kept away from your four-legged family members.

2. BREAD DOUGH

We know the threat that bread dough poses to the appearance of our thighs, but it’s much more dangerous to our furry little friends. Holiday bakers have to be careful of unbaked bread dough as it can expand in animal stomachs if ingested. In some dogs, the stomach can twist and cut off the blood supply, in which case the pup would need emergency surgery.

3. CHOCOLATE

Cat and dog in Santa hats chowing down on plates of food
iStock/TatyanaGl

A little chocolate never hurt anybody, right? Wrong. The sweet treat can cause seizures and even be fatal to our pets. Darker chocolate, such as the baker’s chocolate we love to put in our holiday cookies, is more toxic to our pets than milk or white chocolate. The toxic ingredients include caffeine and theobromine, a chemical found in the cacao plant.

4. MACADAMIA NUTS

Macadamia nuts, which are a common ingredient in holiday cookies and often put out to munch on as an appetizer, can be toxic to dogs. While poisoning might not always be easy to detect in a pet, clinical warning signs include depression, weakness, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness, and lack of coordination.

5. ALCOHOL

Think back to when you first started drinking and how much less alcohol it took to get you tipsy, because you likely weighed less than you do now. Well, your pet probably weighs a lot less than you did, even back then, meaning it takes much less alcohol to make them dangerously sick. Keep those wine glasses far out of reach of your pets in order to avoid any issues. Well, maybe not any issue: We can’t promise that this will stop you from getting embarrassingly drunk at a holiday party this year.

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