When you first see a one-pound donut at Mohegan Sun’s new fusion coffee shop, you immediately want to compare its mammoth size to other objects.
It’s the circumference of a steering wheel.
It’s as big as an adult’s head.
It resembles the sliding stone they use in curling.
Or how about this: The dough that comes out of the center of this immense creation seems nearly the size of a regular donut.
Well, that all might be overstating it slightly, but know this: It’s reeeeeally big.
Mohegan Sun opened The Crafty Stir Café on January 10, and one of its sinfully signature features is the Humongous One Pound Donut. The cost: $7 each.
“It’s been going fantastic,” says Christopher Greaney, director of fine dining at Mohegan Sun. “We were eager to see what the public would think of it, and they love it.”
He says the café sells an average of 10 daily. The most sold in a day has been 23.
How Crafty Stir came to be
The space that Crafty Stir occupies now — on the upper floor, next to the Sky Tower hotel lobby — used to house Imus Ranch Coffee. After the Sun closed down temporarily during the first wave of COVID-19, that shop remained dormant, Greaney says. The Sun wanted to revitalize the space, and executives were first discussing turning it over to Dunkin Donuts or making it another Starbucks location.
Instead, they decided to create the Sun’s own café/coffee shop. Having it near the hotel lobby leant it to offering breakfast items, where hotel guests could grab something to go and be on their way.
Then came the question of what to do that would set this new spot apart from other Mohegan Sun tenants. The answers were the one-pound donut and spiked coffee (more on the spiked coffee later).
“One of the big showstopper things I personally wanted was I wanted the humongous donut,” Greaney says.
A favorite photo of Greaney’s — one he uses as a screensaver — is of his son Jack eating a huge donut at Disney World a few years ago. Jack, who was 4-1/2 at the time, loved the donut, and his father thought it would be great to offer something similar at the Sun.
The Crafty Stir is also near Kids Quest at the Sun, so it made sense for the venue to offer an item that would appeal to kids.
Greaney says he wanted something that “was different from other coffee locations. Although they have donuts, how could we make something different? My solution was to have a quality donut and to just go bigger!”
If you build it …
Lynn Mansel, executive pastry chef and director of culinary at Mohegan Sun, says they had to figure out the right size for the donut; the one-pound version ended up being as big as they could realistically make it.
Another issue was determining the best temperature for the fryolator when cooking such a large donut. The color of the donut exterior, for instance, could look good, but the dough inside might be raw; that would mean the oil is much too hot. They ended up having to cook the donuts as at a lower temperature than they would normal-sized ones.
They tried fresh yeast and dry yeast to see which made the better product; the choice was fresh yeast.
Greaney says when they experimented with two different mixes, it was a great day; “We got to eat large donuts all day long,” he says.
When he tasted the final version, he says he thought, “That’s exactly what I wanted. They nailed it.”
The Sun had to buy a fryolator to make these extra-large donuts. A chef drops the circles of dough into the vat — a maximum of five can fit in there at once — and they cook for about four or five minutes. The now-golden-hued donuts are each scooped out with a spider strainer and dipped into a bowl of glaze.
Workers bring the finished product from the Sun’s bake shop on the main level to The Crafty Stir upstairs.
“We’re very lucky to have such a great culinary team,” Greaney says. “The whole bake shop, everybody is always up for a challenge.”
Yeah, but how does it taste?
Of course, the idea of a one-pound donut is all well and good … but how does it taste? Having sampled it, we can say it’s delectable. The cake-like dough bursts with just the right amount of sweetness. The glaze adds nice texture and flavor. It has a certain heft — this isn’t like the super-light Krispy Kreme creations — but it isn’t unpleasantly dense.
Even if it weren’t supersized, it would make an impression.
As Mansel notes, “It’s a promotional thing that looks good and it tastes good.”
Sharing or not
People usually share the donut; kids in a family might split it between them, Greaney says. But some individual TikTok-ers have actually consumed the whole thing.
And just how many calories are we talking for the entire donut? Close to 1,200.
Folks don’t necessarily have to consume the thing all in one day. Mansel says they left one uneaten for two days and then put it “in the microwave for a little bit, and oh, my God, it was like it was just done.”
Anyone who buys one and can’t finish it in one day then, can put it in the microwave and freshen it up, he says.
Customize your donut
Mansel says, “Because of the way we are, we never want to let it go (as it is). Now we want to take it somewhere else. … We’re looking to excel now into some new flavors.”
Which is why they’ve been trying to cook the donuts with Oreos inside.
Greaney notes that they’re working on seasonal versions, too. On Valentine’s Day, for instance, the donut had a pink glaze.
“We’re playing around with a lot of different ideas. I don’t think we’re going to be able to make a four-leaf clover for St. Patrick’s Day but maybe green icing,” Greaney says.
Another concept that’s being developed: customize your Humongous Donut. That might include choosing your own icing or toppings.
“There’s a lot of different iterations of the donut we’re excited to introduce here,” Greaney says.
Debuting the ‘barista bomb’
Another unusual feature at The Crafty Stir is the “barista bomb.” Greaney explains what that is:
“You can get any one of our spirits, and it can go right into a dessert. Personally, I like the dark chocolate Godiva and the chocolate cupcake. It’s fantastic. It really is to die for. It looks beautiful, it tastes even that much better. So it’s like a little half-ounce of pipette that we squeeze into one of the cupcakes.”
Beyond donuts and barista bombs
The Crafty Stir has a range of other items, too, including offerings for people who want something healthy. The venue sells smoothies, for example; Greaney says his favorite is the carrot ginger concoction.
Sandwiches are made fresh daily, with one of the most popular being the veggie on ciabatta, which Greaney says is almost like a Caprese sandwich.
The spiked coffee options include Café Caribbean with Bacardi Spiced & Amaretto; Caramel Irish with Jameson and Caramel Schnapps; and the Russian Café, with Kahlua and Grey Goose Vodka.
Greaney notes that Mohegan Sun Food & Beverage has had three openings in 11 months, with Tao on March 23 of last year, The Crafty Stir on Jan. 10 and at FanDuel Sportsbook on Feb. 10.
“We’ve been very busy. We’re really excited, and the movement is really (toward) experiential dining. We have two new potential concepts coming to the casino as well” in the food court, he says. “There’s going to be more to come on that.”
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