Now there is yet another player in the city that is keeping the options limited but still creative.
They're just fried dough with some glaze, right? At the latest doughnut option in Chicago, the humble snack is infused with French chocolate, lemon curd and butterscotch cream. Those represent only a third of the delicious possibilities.
They begin each day at the crack of dawn at Firecakes, the city's latest doughnut emporium in a River North storefront. There's nowhere to sit in the front room, because most of the space is devoted to the kitchen, where doughs and batters are mixed and kneaded all morning long.
"We make one dough - it's a yeast-risen dough - and we have a number of different variations made from that yeast dough. And then we do several different batters, which are cake doughnuts," said Jonathan Fox, the owner of Firecakes.
Fox offers about 10 flavors a day, and they range from the simple - like a dense and sweet buttermilk old fashioned - to a more elaborate lemon verbena meringue, which is fried with the hole.
"Glaze it with a lemon glaze, and then we punch the hole in, put the curd and finish it with a burned meringue," he said.
Butterscotch praline is filled with the namesake custard, then glazed with caramel and topped with finely-ground almonds.
"So you have the butterscotch and the caramel and the richness from that, and then the texture from the nut," said Fox.
Maple glazed pineapple and bacon are smaller sized, since they pack more oopmh.. While chocolate hazelnut long johns are stuffed with a nutella-flavored custard, topped with Valhrona chocolate icing.
"And it's tempered - it's more like a ganache - so its got a really nice sheen; and then we complement it with another layer of nuts which are toasted hazelnuts on top," he said.
Even coconut cream is gussied up with custard and toasted coconut on top. Fox says the city's doughnut craze hasn't peaked just yet.
"Now we're just taking different skill sets and different levels of creativity and applying them to something everyone loves. I think it's here to stay for sure," said Fox.
68 W. Hubbard