The Guilty Pleasure: Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Doughnut Where To Get It: Krispy Kreme, four locations Valleywide The Price: 99 cents each What It Really Costs: 420 calories for one doughnut? Yikes.
Blame it on Voodoo Doughnut up in weird ol' Portland. Ever since someone there slapped a couple of strips of bacon on a maple Long John, doughnut makers have experimented with salty toppings on otherwise sweet doughnuts.
Numerous independent places have gone the easy route and made copycat versions of Voodoo's original. Dunkin' Donuts tried to give it their own spin, but pushed the envelope a little too far. Now, Krispy Kreme is part of the sweet-and-salty doughnut trend with an unusual combination: Chocolate, caramel, and pretzels.
Right now, Krispy Kreme has a promotion featuring chocolate/caramel combinations, including three chocolate donuts and caramel mocha coffee. The first two doughnuts seem like something you would see if caramel was a regular doughnut shop offering. There's a chocolate cake doughnut topped with caramel and chocolate chips, and a caramel crème-filled doughnut topped with chocolate icing.
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Those ones are fine, but the standout is the Chocolate Caramel Pretzel. It's a chocolate-crème-filled doughnut topped with caramel and a generous coating of crushed pretzels. Most of Krispy Kreme's offerings (let's be honest, the entire doughnut industry's offerings) are uniformly squishy and saccharine. The pretzels on top of the Chocolate Caramel Pretzel are novel yet familiar. It's a good gateway drug for mainstream Americans who might be turned off by the thought of straight salted caramel, much less the weirdness of maple-bacon doughnuts.
Food fans will likely enjoy the Chocolate Caramel Pretzel doughnut, too. The sweet-salty balance is spot-on. The chocolate crème filling brings better chocolate presence than either chocolate iced or chocolate cake doughnuts. I usually find Krispy Kreme's doughnuts so light I feel like I'm eating sweetened air, but the pretzel bits add some much-needed substance.
Or maybe the pretzels add a little too much substance. At 420 calories a pop, the Chocolate Caramel Pretzel doughnut is the most calorific option on Krispy Kreme's menu. You're better off having two plain glazed doughnuts instead of one Chocolate Caramel Pretzel.