Dining Chicago

Sweet of the Week: French Cream Donut at Le Pain Quotidien

French Cream Donut:

I love doughnuts as much as any yellow cartoon character, but over the past year or so, I can say that I've come dangerously close to doughnut fatique. How much more can one city take before the deep-fried bubble bursts? In a sea of doughnuts, it takes something truly novel to stand out. Like the mammoth French cream donuts at Le Pain Quotidien. These juggernaut desserts are not for the faint of heart, and it's practically hilarious the stark contrast they're in compared to the rest of the wholesome and downright nourishing menu at the Brussels-born cafe. These are not your typical glazed doughnuts by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, they're indulgence on par with the most salacious of risque state fair foods. They just happen to be served at a quaint cafe.

Le Pain Quotidien
(Le Pain Quotidien's French cream donuts)

The best way to tackle the French cream donuts at Le Pain Quotidien are, first, to starve yourself the day prior so that you have an appetite for it. Next, just think of the thing as an ice cream sandwich, albeit with sliced donuts in lieu of cookies and dense pastry cream subbing in for ice cream. These things are as thick and hefty as a Big Mac, and although the donuts themselves and the creamy center are relatively light to maneuver, it makes for quite the gut-busting mess. Best to eat in solitude. With all the napkins. Breaking it down into specific flavor merits, I love how the donuts taste the way classic fied dough should taste, with that bright fresh-from-the-fryer aroma and the patina of treacly sugar. The creamy interior is as rich and sensational as a cup of vanilla cream pudding, but better because you're consuming it by the gaping mouthful. Together, the interplay of sugary-light donut and buttercream-y filling make for one incredible, if lustfully excessive, dessert. 

- Matt Kirouac

Neighborhoods: West Loop

With hundreds of locations worldwide, Le Pain Quotidien breaks into the Chicago market with a trifecta of Belgian-inspired cafes due the spring of 2014. The inaugural Chicago location is in...

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