best dozen nibble mixed dozen overhead

The Best Dozen: Nibble

best dozen nibble donuts in box

By Daniel B.

We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donut shops -- and pick his favorite donuts -- for a short series called The Best Dozen.

Donuts can be an adult indulgence. And I'm not even talking about Nibble's cocktail donuts in flavors like Old Fashioned, which has a whiskey glaze.

Usually I will share the remains of these weekly donut tastings with my children. And while I found that there was a lot to love about Nibble's unique form of potato donuts, my progeny were less enthusiastic. They were not sure whether to call these donatoes or potonuts, but they felt strongly that these should not be called donuts

Here's what I came to understand from that interaction. It's hard to have something called a donut be so different from something you think of as a donut. Go back and read that again, because it holds true for adults, too.

Fortunately, after eating through 12 of these hand-crafted treats, I have a much better understanding of their strengths and their weaknesses. And I have a strategy for making sure you bring home the best dozen.

The mixed dozen

best dozen nibble mixed dozen overhead

Column by column, left to right.

The classic
Orange
Apple spice /
Vanilla chai (flavor of the day)
Maple bacon
Strawberry chocolate (vegan) /
Chocolate orange
Dark chocolate sea salt
Parfait /
Milk man
Local lemon
Blackberry cassis

The best of the bunch

Parfait
best_dozen_nibble_Parfait_-_Side.jpg

If you told me that my favorite donut would be one that was stuffed with Greek yogurt and topped with granola and raw honey, I'd say you were a filthy liar. Not only does the rich thick tangy yogurt complement the donut shell, the crunchy granola add some contrasting texture, and the flavorful local honey shine though, they've done it with a wink and a smile by taking something healthy and shoving it inside a donut. Bravo.

Local lemon
best_dozen_nibble_Local_Lemon_-_Side.jpg

Now that is a lemon donut. It is sweet, tart, creamy and comforting. It's like slapping on after shave and then massaging it into your skin. It's bracing and refreshing at first--it will wake you up and make you take notice--but in the end you feel clean, comfortable, and ready to take on the world. And that thin sliver of meyer lemon on top is as delicious as it is decorative.

The solid choices

The Classic
best_dozen_nibble_Classic_-_side.jpg

A plain donut? I resisted getting this at first, but I am so glad that this simple, unadorned potato donut made it into my box. More than anything else it provided insight into the form. The first bite was not full of wow. But bite after bite this donut won me over. There are a few crispy bits on the crust. However, this is all about the rich, dough-like crumb. It's lightly sweet and surprisingly comforting. A thick bowl of oatmeal is the wrong metaphor. It is almost reminiscent of the rich doughy heart of a great challah.

Maple bacon
best_dozen_nibble_Maple_Bacon_-_side.jpg

Bam! Big meaty pieces of thick, smoky pork belly. The texture of the meat works well with Nibble's denser shells, and this donut as a good sweet to salty balance. It could benefit from a more assertive maple flavor, because more than the caramelized earthy sweetness of maple, I was tasting the floral sweetness of honey.

Strawberry chocolate
best_dozen_nibble_Strawberry_Chocolate_-_Side.jpg

With a meltingly tender glaze and a rich, tender crumb, this vegan donut was a winner. The tender crumb really sets it apart from its non-vegan counterparts and is more reminiscent of a cake donut in texture. The strawberry is there, but it's subtle. Fortunately the bitter complexity of good dark chocolate helps to coax some more of it out of the glaze.

Milk Man
best_dozen_nibble_Milk_Man_-_Cross_Section.jpg

The only donut of the dozen that treads a bit too close to the cloyingly sweet side of the spectrum. Texturally, it's lovely with a thick milky filling and a hardened chocolate icing over the dense shell. If this had a dark chocolate icing, it would have something to keep the sweetness in check. But I suppose it's good to have something for people who prefer a sweeter donut.

Blackberry cassis
best_dozen_nibble_Blackberry_Cassis_-_Cross_Section.jpg

Jelly that tastes like actual fruit and not just a thickened sugar syrup? This is what all jelly donuts should aspire to achieve, and Nibble nailed it. The currant seeds are kind of fun in that they provide a textural contrast. But those little buggers are hard. Fortunately, I don't have delicate dental work and had easy access to a toothpick. I suppose currant seeds are full of beneficial micronutrients and flavanoids, but it's not fun trying to get them out of your teeth.

The disappointment

Fundamentally, these all had the same critical flaw. Given the density of the potato donut, the flavors of the glazes just didn't come through. They were all perfectly pleasant and beautiful to look at, with enchanting names. However, if you were blindfolded, I would bet that nobody would be able to come up with any of the names of these flavors

Orange
best_dozen_nibble_Orange_-_side.jpg

It's a good donut. The glaze crackles when you bite into it. But the orange flavor isn't there.

Apple spice
best_dozen_nibble_apple_spice_-_side.jpg

A bit more of the flavors come through, but the are subtle. The glaze has some lovely sweet spice, but the donut could benefit from more of this topping. But the donut itself is different than The Classic and has a stiffer crumb. Overall I wasn't a fan.

Vanilla chai
best_dozen_nibble_Vanilla_chai_-_side.jpg

More than vanilla or the assertive spices of chai tea, the most prominent flavor from the donut was that of honey. And that's in chai for sure, but this donut of the day would not command a repeat performance.

Chocolate orange
best_dozen_nibble_Chocolate_Orange_-_Side.jpg

Orange zest! Little microplaned bits of orange zest filled me with hope that this donut would deliver in the flavor department. But even with a milk chocolate shell, the flavor gets burried.

Dark chocolate sea salt
best_dozen_nibble_Dark_Chocolate_Sea_Salt_-_Side.jpg

Give me the bitterness of dark chocolate. Give me the salinity of sea salt. I love salty, bitter sweets. Really this one just needs more. More dark chocolate. More salt. And maybe it could deliver on its promise.

The best dozen

3 Parfait
3 Local lemon
3 Filled (be creative)
1 Classic
1 Maple bacon
1 Strawberry chocolate

One thing is perfectly clear after my visit to Nibble, the filled donuts are the things to eat.

Do yourself a favor. If you've never been to Nibble before, order The Classic right away. Eat it on the spot, to get a better understanding of the shell. Then think about what you would like to fill and top those donuts.

I bet one filled with peanut butter and topped with chocolate would be fantastic. Or even one filled with cranberry and topped with orange glaze.

Yes, these donuts are the most expensive of any in this series. A mixed dozen of simple and signature flavors will set you back $20. A box full of signature flavors is $25.

But there is value in being able to customize your very own donuts and have them made for you on the spot. Of course, some of their ready-made donuts are worth trying, too. It's just important to note that they aren't the stars of the show.

Daniel B. is the proprietor of the FUSSYlittleBLOG.

More from The Best Dozen:
+ Hannaford
+ Schuyler Bakery
+ Cider Belly
+ ShopRite in Colonie
+ Stewart's
+ Cookie Factory in Troy
+ Market Bistro in Latham
+ Park Side Eatery in Saratoga Springs
+ Bella Napoli in Troy

Earlier on AOA: New donut shop for Troy: Nibble Inc.

Find It

Nibble Inc
461 Broadway
Troy, NY 12180

Comments

Try the breakfast sandwiches!!!!! Great twist on traditional and awesome combos!!

Well, with Nibble written about, I believe we are nearing the time where Daniel will be forced to eat 12 donuts from Dunkin Donuts (for the sake of science). I can't wait to read his comments on those!

I was hoping Nibble was going to be included, glad to hear your detailed review before trying them out!

Mmmm, thanks for the reminder. I have yet to try out these tubernuts. Maybe this weekend.

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