Mochi doughnuts at Dunlap's Donuts in Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

Squishy, bouncy, fluffy: Mochi doughnuts delight at Dunlap’s Donuts

The mochi doughnuts at Dunlap’s Donuts in Pleasure Point balance the fluffy texture of traditional doughnuts with chewy, squishy mochi, and are topped with nontraditional flavors.

When Aly and Kevin Sam moved from Stockton to Castroville and purchased Dunlap’s Donuts in 2015, the 30-year-old Pleasure Point business already had its own doughnut recipes. But Kevin had a vision for a different kind of doughnut. Starting with the classics, he tinkered with the recipe until he created one that was fluffier and would keep its airy texture throughout the day. “As time went by, he found a passion for it,” says wife Aly, who manages the front of the business.

A lover of big donuts, Kevin supersized the maple bars, created fritters as big as baseball gloves and cinnamon rolls the size of dinner plates. After a few years, he really started having fun. Drawing inspiration from new wave doughnut shops around the Bay Area and beyond, he began topping Dunlap’s doughnuts with Fruity Pebbles breakfast cereal, M&Ms candy and crushed Oreo cookies. He created his own toppings inspired by tiramisu, strawberry funnel cake, churros, banana pudding, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and s’mores.

But it’s Dunlap’s new mochi doughnuts ($3), launched earlier this summer, that really showcase his skill. Mochi is a type of cake made from pounded Japanese glutinous rice and has a squishy texture beloved all over the world. But incorporating it into other baked goods can be tricky; sometimes the end result is unappetizingly dense and gummy. I’ve tried other mochi doughnuts that were like biting into a block of clay.

Kevin and Aly Sam, owners of Dunlap's Donuts in Pleasure Point.
Kevin and Aly Sam, owners of Dunlap’s Donuts in Pleasure Point.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Made with additions of glutinous rice flour and tapioca flour as well as wheat flour, Dunlap’s mochi doughnuts perfectly balance two opposing textures; they’re fluffy like a classic doughnut with a chewy, bouncy mochi center. Kevin Sam uses a special doughnut hopper to create a cheerful bubble-ring shape often used for mochi doughnuts. Finally, he tops the doughnuts with flavors like ube with flaked coconut, matcha with crushed Oreo, strawberry Pocky cookie — or whatever he feels like on that particular day. The end result is a cheerful, playful treat that can’t help but bring a smile to your face.

My favorite is the ube, a sweet yam with a touch of earthiness and a cartoonishly violet hue that often shows up in Asian desserts. I’m not alone, says Aly: “Ube is one of the most popular. Even though a lot of people don’t know what it is, if they try it they come back for it.”

3791 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz. 831-475-6447.