Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Peanut Butter Cups. Lucky Charms.
All are sugary indulgences on their own, but as doughnut toppings?
Put these goodies on top of doughnuts and you’ve got the gourmet doughnut trend that’s sweeping the country. With the opening of two new trendy doughnut shops in Fresno and Clovis, that trend is officially here.
Donut Fantasy opened Dec. 26 at Bullard and West avenues in the Fig Tree Plaza, right next to the Manhattan Steakhouse.
It’s most popular doughnut: The $1.25 Flamin’ Cheeto, a doughnut topped with vanilla icing and the spicy red Cheetos.
An odd combo, for sure. Your mouth first tastes the sweetness of the doughnut and frosting, with a crunch from the Cheetos and the spiciness is an aftertaste that hits the back of your throat.
Now, I realize that may not be your thing.
“When pigs fly” is a maple bar with bacon crumbles on top. “When dirty pigs fly” is the same thing, but with chocolate frosting.
That’s OK because there are plenty of other creative options to try out at Donut Fantasy. They include: Peanut butter jelly time – a strawberry jelly-filled doughnut topped with peanut butter. A doughnut dunked in Kool-Aid mix. Bordeaux, designed to mimic the flavor of See’s Candies of the same name. And the Chipper, a doughnut with chocolate frosting topped with potato chips (which the owner says appeals to the people who like to dunk their french fries in chocolate milkshakes).
Donut Fantasy sells more traditional doughnuts and fritters, too. And doughnuts that don’t sell are turned into doughnut bread pudding for the next day.
The doughnuts and the business are the creation of Nick and Ashley Hamby, a couple of Fresno/Clovis natives who moved home to open the shop. Nick, a 2004 Hoover High grad, and Ashley (who’s maiden name is Accardo), a 2006 Clovis East grad, were neighbors and have been a couple since they were 15 and 17, respectively.
Nick is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef specializing in pastries and baking. The couple had been living in Las Vegas for seven years where, most recently, he worked at Aria, the Las Vegas casino and resort, supplying its pastry shop and hotel with goodies. Ashley was a “pet stylist” at PetSmart, grooming dogs for living.
Everyone says, ‘You always move back to Fresno.’
Ashley Hamby, Donut Fantasy
They were familiar with gourmet doughnut shops like Voodoo Doughnut, the Portland-based bakery that regularly inspires long lines and sells doughnuts shaped like voodoo dolls or with toppings like Tang and marshmallows. Other gourmet doughnut shops include Psycho Donuts in the Bay Area, which sells The Dead Elvis – a doughnut filled with custard and topped with bananas, peanut butter and jelly, and bacon.
And in Vegas, the pair knew the now-closed O Face Doughnuts, which used flavors like root beer, Nutella and rosewater pistachio (not together, obviously).
The Hambys – Ashley is 27, Nick is 29 – wanted to open such a place. At the time Fresno only had doughnut shops that dabbled in the gourmet.
“Fresno doesn’t really have all gourmet [shops],” Ashley says. “We’re like, ‘OK well, let’s move home. Let’s do that.”
So they did.
And if you don’t meet them working at the shop, you’ll surely meet a parent or a sister or other member of the entire family who helps out there. Sister Lindsey Dudek gets the sister-of-the-year award for being kind enough to put on a doughnut suit in the rain and wave at potential customers on the street corner.
In June, Liv’s Donuts opened with its own creative concoctions at 1660 Herndon Ave., near the Vons at Fowler Avenue in Clovis.
Cereal-topped doughnuts are big here. You’ll find doughnuts topped with Lucky Charms, Cap’n Crunch and Froot Loops.
Others are topped with mini M&Ms, peanut butter cups and smashed Oreo cookies.
Liv’s sells boxes of doughnuts and doughnut holes with “happy birthday” – or “best boss” or whatever you want – written across several of the donuts.
On weekends, there’s cupcakes. There’s even a doughnut cake – which is just a really giant doughnut.
Liv, by the way, is the family’s last name.
No mention of gourmet doughnuts would be complete without mentioning Clovis Donuts, at Ashlan and Fowler avenues.
I wrote about the business back in June. What sets them apart is their cronuts – the doughnut-croissant hybrid that is filled and topped with custard or flavored whipped cream and fresh fruit. You’ll also find regular doughnuts topped with Reese’s Pieces, bacon strips, even mini chocolate chip cookies.
Clovis Donuts has also started adding “oohwee buns,” a donut stuffed with ice cream. Expect to see more of those this summer, along with a food truck the business is planning.