The cupcake trend finally arrived in South Florida a few years ago, and now we have designer donuts, thanks to Mandarin Gourmet Donut Shoppe in Palmetto Bay. The sleek space with tiers of baked goodness piled on glass shelves is owned by Michelle Vazquez and her husband, Rudy, and named for the Chinese language their children are learning.
The donuts are friend in trans fat-free palm oil and made with mostly organic ingredients. There are fluffy glazed rings and denser, yeasty, filled donuts plus donut dots (holes), breakfast bread by the slice (try cherry-almond or lemon-blueberry), croissants, cupcakes, fruit bowls, sandwiches, and soup of the day along with coffee drinks and cocoa.
Michelle worked for 20 years as a real estate paralegal after studying political science at FIU. Seeing where the real-estate market was heading, she decided to fill the void for premium, handmade donuts. Four years ago she attended the AIB International School of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas, which offers a specialty in donuts. She got certified and began an online donut delivery service. She opened the store in April, but still delivers anywhere in Miami-Dade for a small charge with 24 hours advance notice.
The doughnut is thought to have arrived in America with the Dutch, who make olykoeks or “oily cakes” from fried balls of dough. The hole developed later as the centers didn’t always cook through. The donuts here are cleanly fried and won’t leave grease on your hands. Rings come glazed in chocolate, cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, hazelnuts, espresso drizzle, dulce de leche and, when in season, mango.
Chewy filled donuts are stuffed with pumpkin, blueberry and mascarpone cheese, vanilla or dark chocolate custard, caramelized apple pie, marshmallow cream, black raspberry and guava and cream cheese. Sandwiches include rib eye with melted mozzarella and chicken salad with walnuts and raisins, but the holey dough is what makes this place so sweet.