People really need to stop filling donuts with ice cream because if they don't, I'm not going to live past 40. First came Afters' Milky Bun, which I famously enjoyed, and now Frozen Bar, a small little ice cream joint in Garden Grove, is stuffing donuts with gelato and calling them Fronuts. I feel like this should be some sort of public health crisis.
But alas, I totally ate one, and now I'm going to tell you about it.
For $5, you get your choice of a glazed or unglazed donut stuffed with some not-so-chic South East Asian-inspired ice cream. You also get your choice of topping (sprinkles, assorted cereals), which, like Afters, doesn't really top anything, rather they go inside the donut. Yes, these donuts are also actually filled. They're sliced open, have a scoop of ice cream dumped inside, and are then resealed using what looks like a modified waffle iron, leaving the donut nice and hot and the ice cream ready to melt.
The donut? Dense and hefty, with a definite chew and more body than your standard donut. They're almost leaden with (I think) extra fat to keep the starch from breaking apart under the weight of the melting ice cream. In that regard, the recipe is a success, though at the expense of some things that I'll discuss in a bit.
ice cream gelato? Plenty good. Frozen Bar's flavors should play well in Garden Grove. You have your standard American flavors, but my favorites were the guava and passion fruit. They also durian flavor, but I'm sorry to report that my parents didn't raise me *that* Vietnamese, and I can barely touch the stuff. My fault, not theirs.
Now, the donut and the ice cream together? You know, I didn't actually love it very much.
Frozen Bar's got the framework down, but they missed out on a lot of the small details, something that Afters excels at.
Yes, you do get more donut and more ice cream/gelato from Frozen Bar than you do from Afters, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Frozen Bar's donuts are too chewy and too dense. The first bite doesn't taste like ice cream and donuts, it tastes like slightly sweet bread. The donuts also too good at being waterproof: Instead of the melted ice cream soaking into the donut like some sinful ambrosia, it spills out of its cocoon and falls all over your hands.
And yes, you actually can have too much ice cream. The Fronuts are so overstuffed that while the exterior of the ice cream ball is melty and good, the core is still basically freezer temperature. This means you can't eat Fronuts that quickly, so you're standing there holding a donut that's dripping ice cream all over your hands, and you can't eat it quickly to solve problem because it's too cold and you don't need brain freeze. You know what that means? You're going to get even more ice cream on your hands. It's kind of a disappointment.
But that's okay, because the Fronut — and the Milky Bun — are gimmicks. They're a fun idea, but the real strengths of the two ice cream joints are in their adjacent offerings (Afters with its flavors and Frozen bar with its.. bars). Frozen Bar sells boutique ice cream bars that are cute and pretty tasty and clean. You should be getting those instead.
Now, if you're really craving ice cream-stuffed donuts, and you're located north of the 22, the Fronut will hit the spot just fine, but honestly, the Milky Bun is the better of the two. But do yourself a favor, just get the ice cream or the ice cream bars instead, 'cause that's where all the goodness is.
For more information about Frozen Bar, check out their Facebook page.