When you first see a one-pound donut in Mohegan Sun’s new fusion cafe, you immediately want to compare its gigantic size to other objects.
It is the circumference of a steering wheel.
It’s as big as an adult’s head.
It looks like the sliding stone they use in curling.
Or how about this: the dough that comes out of the center of this huge creation looks almost the size of a regular doughnut.
Well, that might all be slightly overkill, but know this: it really is big.
Mohegan Sun opened the Crafty Stir Café on January 10, and one of its signature features is the Humongous One Pound Donut. Cost: $7 each.
“It’s going wonderfully,” says Christopher Greaney, food manager at Mohegan Sun. “We were excited to see what the public would think of it, and they love it.”
He says the cafe sells an average of 10 a day. The most sold in one day was 23.
How Crafty Stir Was Born
The space Crafty Stir now occupies – on the top floor, next to the lobby of the Sky Tower hotel – once housed the Imus Ranch cafe. After the Sun was temporarily closed during the first wave of COVID-19, that store went dormant, Greaney says. The Sun wanted to revitalize the space, and executives initially considered turning it over to Dunkin Donuts or making it another Starbucks location.
Instead, they decided to start the Sun’s own cafe/coffee shop. Having it near the hotel lobby led to it offering breakfast items, where hotel guests could grab something to go and leave.
Then came the question of what to do that would set this new place apart from other Mohegan Sun tenants. The answers were the one pound donut and fortified coffee (more on fortified coffee later).
“One of the biggest things I personally wanted was that I wanted the huge donut,” Greaney said.
A favorite Greaney photo – the one he uses as a screen saver – is of his son Jack eating a huge donut at Disney World a few years ago. Jack, who was 4½ at the time, loved the donut and his dad thought it would be great to give something similar to The Sun.
The Crafty Stir is also close to Kids Quest at the Sun, so it only made sense that the venue would feature an item that would appeal to kids.
Greaney says he wanted something that “was different from other cafes. Although they have donuts, how could we do something different? My solution was to have a quality donut and go bigger. !”
If you build it…
Lynn Mansel, executive pastry chef and culinary director at Mohegan Sun, says they had to find the right size for the donut; the one-pound version ended up being as big as they realistically could make it.
Another issue was determining the best temperature for the fryolator when cooking such a large donut. The color of the outside of the donut, for example, might look good, but the dough inside might be raw; that would mean the oil is way too hot. They ended up having to cook the donuts at a lower temperature than normal sized donuts.
They tried fresh yeast and dry yeast to see which made the best product; the choice was fresh yeast.
Greaney says when they experimented with two different mixes, it was a great day; “We have to eat big donuts all day,” he says.
When he tasted the final version, he said he thought to himself, “This is exactly what I wanted. They succeeded.
The Sun had to buy a fryolator to make these extra-large donuts. A chef places the circles of dough in the pan – a maximum of five can fit there at a time – and they cook for about four or five minutes. The now golden donuts are each scooped out with a spider colander and dipped into a bowl of glaze.
Workers bring the finished product from the Sun Bakery on the main level to the Crafty Stir upstairs.
“We are very lucky to have such a great culinary team,” says Greaney. “Every bakery, everyone is always up for a challenge.”
Yes, but what does it taste like?
Sure, the idea of a one pound donut is all well and good…but how does it taste? After tasting it, we can say that it is delectable. The cake-like batter bursts with just the right amount of sweetness. Frosting adds a nice texture and flavor. It has some heft – it’s not like Krispy Kreme’s super lightweight creations – but it’s not unpleasantly dense.
Even if it wasn’t oversized, it would make a good impression.
As Mansel notes, “It’s a promotional thing that looks good and tastes good.”
Share or not
People usually share the donut; children in a family could share it among themselves, says Greaney. But some individual TikTok-ers have actually consumed it all.
And how many calories are we talking about for the whole donut? Almost 1,200.
People don’t necessarily have to consume the thing in a single day. Mansel says they left one uneaten for two days, then put it “in the microwave for a little while, and oh, my God, it was like it was just done.”
Anyone who buys one and can’t finish it in a day can put it in the microwave and refresh it, he says.
Personalize 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 are looking to excel in new flavors now. “
That’s why they tried baking the donuts with Oreos inside.
Greaney notes that they are also working on seasonal releases. On Valentine’s Day, for example, the donut had pink frosting.
“We’re toying with a lot of different ideas. I don’t think we’ll be able to do a four-leaf clover for St. Patrick’s Day, but maybe green icing,” Greaney says.
Another concept under development: customize your Humongous Donut. This could include choosing your own icing or toppings.
“There are a lot of different iterations of the donut that we’re excited to showcase here,” Greaney said.
Launch of the “barista bomb”
Another unusual feature of The Crafty Stir is the “barista bomb”. Greaney explains what it is:
“You can get any of our spirits, and it can go straight into a dessert. Personally, I love the Godiva dark chocolate and the chocolate cupcake. It’s fantastic. It really is to die for. It’s beautiful, it even tastes a lot better. So it’s like a little half-ounce pipette that we squeeze into one of the cupcakes.
Beyond donuts and barista bombs
The Crafty Stir also has a range of other items, including deals for people who want something healthy. The place sells smoothies, for example; Greaney says her favorite is the carrot and ginger concoction.
The sandwiches are fresh daily, with one of the most popular being the vegetable on ciabatta, which Greaney says almost resembles a Caprese sandwich.
Enriched coffee options include Café Caribbean with Bacardi Spiced & Amaretto; Caramel Irish with Jameson and Caramel Schnapps; and the Russian Café, with Kahlua and Gray Goose Vodka.
Greaney notes that Mohegan Sun Food & Beverage had three openings in 11 months, with Tao on March 23 last year, The Crafty Stir on January 10 and at FanDuel Sportsbook on February 10.
“We’ve been really busy. We’re really excited and the movement is really (towards) experiential dining. We also have two potential new casino concepts” in the food court, he says. “There’s going to be more to come on that.”