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We thought the news had already gone “stale” but, on the contrary, hybrids – or mash-ups – are confirmed as being one of the fastest growing trends of international cuisine. According to Restaurant Business, which refers to a research carried out by Datassential's of Chicago, 28% of Americans still feel a strong attraction for hybrids and encourage operators to continue in this direction.
As we look forward to learning about new combinations (who knows if anyone has taken a look at the public’s wildest dreams which emerge from the Goldbely Eat the Trend giveaway), here is a roundup of the most interesting mash-ups to have been launched recently.
It all started with the cronut. Or maybe not...
On 10 May 2013, Dominique Ansel created (and patented) the cronut, the much talked-about “half croissant-half doughnut". Widely publicised as being a unique and modern combination, apparently it was not the first of its kind.
As far back as 2008 in Worcester (Massachusetts), in her Sweet Kitchen & Bar, pastry chef Alina Eisenhauer had already come up with her dosant: based on the same concept, but with the parts inverted. And if what they say is true, neither can Eisenhauer lay claim to being the first, since the original doughssant (different spelling, same "mathematical formula") was apparently created in 1991 by Italian American baker Roy Auddino from Hilliard in Ohio.
"Cronut sounding" and the like
Whether it was actually the cronut or the dosant or, earlier still, the doughssant that sparked the hybrid-mania is of little importance at this point. There has been, and there still is, the Vancouver frissant along with the Montreal cronetto: the former is a fried croissant and the latter is a cross between a cream-filled doughnut and a croissant.
Then we have pretzel croissants (a large croissant with a knot in it, nothing to write home about, but there you have it...), the croque croissant, in both the Madame and Monsieur versions, not to mention the croissant'wich (a croissant performing the function of a sandwich, even in a burger version).
And if you're thinking that "hybrid" screams "America", think again because many of these ideas were conceived in the Philippines, including the yummmm bun, the cinnamon-flavoured doughnut in a newly created croissant version and the sinful brouffle, half brownie-half chocolate truffle.
Besides, London would appear to be the birthplace of the cruffin, or muffin-croissant. The conditional tense is mandatory because it is rumoured that the true inventor of this culinary creature is a promising young man, one Ry Stephen from the Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco, where these pastries literally sell like hotcakes ... and not only, as we gathered from the city chronicles when burglars broke into the premises with one thought in mind: to steal the recipe!
Despite rhyming with cruffin, here the dough is quite different: we refer to the duffin, aka the muffin-doughnut. Fans of sugar-sweet novelties know it well, especially those who have followed the ups and downs of #duffingate: the paternity of this invention is still being contested between the Starbucks chain and a small London cake shop.
Increasingly delicious hybrids
While everyone is debating the issue of who invented what, Ansel has not been wasting time: one year after the launch of the cronut, the pluri-awarded pastry chef has created his simple yet inspired cookie shots, little biscuit glasses filled with vanilla flavoured milk. Is that the end of the story? Not likely: now there is talk of a waffogato, an ice-cream waffle drowned in espresso coffee with maple syrup.
A closer look at the phenomenon will reveal that tradition always provides the inspiration for innovation: while cookie shots are nothing but a different and more amusing way of succumbing to the comfort food of our childhood years, more recent experiments also take their cue from history.
Towards the end of 2015, for instance, aided and abetted by the Thanksgiving festivities, the web went mad over the piecaken, that is to say "one or more pies baked in a cake” based on an idea from Zac Young of the David Burke restaurant chain. Another hybrid of this type well worth a mention is the cookie butter (peanut butter plus crumbled biscuits), which has upgraded our dear old peanut butter. An American invention? Not at all: the idea follows in the wake of a traditional Belgian cream spread containing broken biscuits and flavoured with cinnamon, typical of Flemish cuisine.
Bruffin, the the savoury front advances of mash-ups
Have you ever heard of the bruffin? For many pioneers of oven-baked savoury hybrids, it is the part brioche and part muffin speciality that has almost ousted the cronut among the cult foods of New York. Alongside the sweet versions, there are numerous savoury and multi-ethnic interpretations: mature cheddar and bacon (England), for instance, or spicy beef, Feta cheese, spinach and Kalamata olives (Greece); as well as Teriyaki chicken, shallot and sesame seeds (Japan), or curried chicken, chickpeas and Paneer cheese (India)...
However, the latest fad when it comes to mash-ups seems to be the Everything Doughnut, a doughnut that is almost a bagel, covered with a cheese topping and various seeds, salt and garlic.
And yet, the most famous mash-up of all time is probably the turducken: a boned turkey filled with a boned duck, filled in its turn with a boned chicken. A sort of gastronomic coat hanger which takes the traditional Thanksgiving turkey to a higher level of refinement. Sorry, hybridisation.