By Ryan Cornell
STRASBURG -- With the opening of two new area doughnut shops this past month, it's clear the doughnut craze has officially hit the Shenandoah Valley.
We've scouted out the sweetest spots to present the four must-try doughnuts of the summer.
The Waken Bacon
Where: Naughty Girls Donut Shop, Front Royal
It's everything you want in the morning, on a doughnut . At least, that's how the owners of Naughty Girls Donut Shop promote their best-selling Waken Bacon Donut.
The vanilla yeast-raised doughnut comes topped with caramel espresso glaze, shreds of bacon, bits of toffee and a chocolate syrup drizzle.
"So it's like a caramel macchiato with some bacon in a doughnut ," Naughty Girls Founder Tiana Ramos, 17, said.
She said they sauté about 55 strips of bacon for each batch, which are then diced up, caramelized in brown sugar and placed upon each doughnut.
Tiana recalled accidentally coming up with the recipe when she was stuck at home, adding whatever she could find around the kitchen.
"We had caramel sauce because we made sundaes the night before, and we had bacon because we had bacon that morning, and then coffee because everybody has coffee at home," she said. "And that made the Waken Bacon."
Tiana's business partner and best friend, Kiana Hoston, 17, said many customers are apprehensive about the combination at first, but one taste is all it takes to turn them into believers.
"They'll try one and they're so shocked that the flavors play out so well," she said.
The doughnut shop, which opened June 21, is located in Riverton Commons next to Sweet Frog and Los Potrillos.
The Sour Cream
Where: Dunkin' Donuts, locations in Strasburg, Woodstock, Toms Brook, Front Royal, Stephens City and Winchester
Cost: 89 cents
The national chain's sour cream doughnut might be among the plainest on our list, but it's also one of the most refreshing for a hot summer day.
With a sweet glaze covering a subtly tart vanilla cake inside, a dozen of these would be perfect for a pool party or a company barbecue. And unlike their custard-filled Boston Kreme brethren, they're light enough not to drag you down in the heat.
Where: Strite's Donuts, locations in Strasburg, Woodstock, Middletown and Winchester
If America runs on Dunkin', one could argue that the area drives on Strite's.
The Strite's Donuts food truck makes regular stops in parking lots throughout Winchester and Shenandoah and Frederick counties, and sells a variety of traditional favorites.
Although glazed doughnuts are their most popular item, their blueberry doughnuts have enjoyed a cult-like following, and as one Strite's employee put it, "they're a taste of heaven."
Frank Emswiler, who runs one of the doughnut trucks, said they make about 15 dozen blueberry doughnuts each morning and they often quickly sell out.
He said they use dehydrated blueberries in their yeast dough, which turns the inside of each doughnut as purple as a Strasburg ram. The doughnuts are then covered with a unique glaze that's made inside the truck.
"I don't think anybody's ever brought one back," Emswiler said. "They're usually upset because we run out of them."
Amber Fisher, who also works in the doughnut truck, said the doughnuts have "just a hint" of blueberry and aren't overly sweet.
"I promote them," she said. "People ask what to get, and I always say get blueberry. And once they try it, they see it's the best."
Where: Holy Moly Donuts, Strasburg
Jung Lee, owner of Holy Moly Donuts, said all of their doughnuts are made from mashed potatoes using pure cane sugar and unbleached, unbromated flour. He said potato donuts -- often referred to as "spudnuts" -- are healthier than flour doughnuts and are popular back in South Korea where he's from.
Since the shop opened on June 30, their chai doughnut has proven to be a hit.
Lee said they use spices including cardamom, cloves, ginger, black tea and cinnamon to achieve the perfect chai tea taste in their doughnuts after the potatoes are done being peeled, boiled and mashed.
Strasburg resident Jennifer Kepler gave the chai doughnut a try while chaperoning a group of eight kids from a trip to the pool.
"It wasn't, like some regular doughnuts are almost too sweet, these were a nice balance of sweet and doughy," she said. "I liked the cinnamon and the vanilla."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org