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The Dish With Gish: KC’s best beignets, and their sweet friends

One of the most popular sweet options at Beignet is the lemon berry cream beignet.

Beignet also serves savory stuffed donuts such as the Spicy Cajun.

Pandolfi’s Deli in Columbus Park is home to the Chocolate Chip Amaretto Brownie ($2.99), a chocoholic’s dream dessert.

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Since it opened this summer, Beignet has become Kansas City’s go-to spot for deep-fried, New Orleans-style French doughnuts overflowing with sweet or savory fillings.

The locally owned cafe has locations at 1710 W. 39th St. and 307 Main St. Both have lines stretching out the door on Saturdays.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon — a slower day for Beignet — I went to the River Market spot and ordered the lemon berry cream beignet ($4). The rectangular pastry was shaped like a Hot Pocket, but that’s where the similarities end.

The beignet’s soft, warm exterior was snowy with powdered sugar, and the inside oozed with fat layers of molten Bavarian cream, lemon curd and a crimson sauce made in-house with four kinds of berries.

Unlike a cream or jelly-filled doughnut, the beignets at Beignet don’t skimp on the filling. Even with a raging appetite and a tall stack of napkins, polishing off one of the decadent pastries on your own can be a challenge. Sort of like tackling a Pandolfi’s Chocolate Chip Amaretto Brownie solo.

Eating these super-rich doughnuts at Beignet reignited my craving for cronuts — the croissant-doughnut hybrid pastry that conquered New York and the Internet over the summer.

My hunt for cronuts in KC has so far been unsuccessful, so when I asked Beignet owner Bryan Merker if he was considering cronuts, I didn’t think he’d say yes.

“It’s pretty funny that you say that,” Merker said, “because that actually might happen.”

Merker explained that he was “infatuated” by the cronut craze and had already bought a few cronut domain names, including cronutkc.com. He has been experimenting with recipes.

“I’ve been trying to master it,” Merker says. “It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s not easy to make beignets, either.”

Don’t freak out, people — Merker has his hands full and might not get to a cronut concept right away. The restaurateur and his wife, Monica, also own Lagniappe — Nica’s Cajun Kitchen, at 320 Southwest Blvd. And they’re considering a third Beignet in Waldo.

But if the couple do decide to open a cronut shop? They better make sure there’s room out front for a long, long line.

A sweet treat in Columbus Park

About a half mile east from the City Market, at Pandolfi’s Deli in Columbus Park, you’ll find what has to be one of the most mind-blowingly good brownies in Kansas City.

The $2.99 slab of heaven starts with a dense, dark, homemade brownie loaded with hunks of rich chocolate. But what makes the Chocolate Chip Amaretto Brownie off-the-charts good is the soft, fluffy layer of amaretto-spiked frosting. The nutty sweetness of the amaretto does something magical when it marries all that rich chocolate flavor. That’s amore.

In case you’re counting calories

OK, deep-fried doughnuts and brick-sized brownies aren’t the healthiest snacks. But everything in moderation, right?

If you’re looking for an afternoon treat that won’t result in a sugar crash, pop into Quay Coffee, 412 Delaware St., and order a glass of iced tea ($2 for 12 ounces).

Quay Coffee carries a Kansas City-based line called Hugo Tea that was founded last year by 26-year-old tea lover and entrepreneur Tyler Beckett. The loose-leaf tea takes 3 or 4 minutes to brew properly, but it’s worth it. The white tea is subtle and pleasantly light. The black tea is extremely low in bitterness and tastes really good without lemon or sugar. It’s sort of like pour-over coffee — supersmooth.

The bright drink reminded me of the orange sun tea my grandma used to brew in glass jugs on the hot sidewalk. Brisk, yet super-refreshing on a warm day. That’s pretty sweet.

Enterprise reporter Sarah Gish writes about dining every first and third week of the month. Contact her via email at sarah@inkkc.com or tweet @sarah_gish.

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