Tastes & Traditions
Dining in the Age of Digital Dessert
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
In a Millennial-informed age of “too much is never enough”, dessert is no exception. While the top trends in delectable sweets used to focus on pairing unusual and unexpected ingredients, the recent rise of hybrid desserts - the innovative combination of two distinct dessert concepts into one - has officially assumed the spotlight. Pastry chefs across the country are getting creative with the latest trend that combines two pastry staples into one sweet surprise.
Perhaps one of the most illustrious examples is the Cronut (croissant + donut) made famous by New York pastry chef, Dominique Ansel. What seems like a donut on the outside, once ravenously bitten into, reveals itself to be a buttery, flaky, and often times filled croissant on the inside. In fact, the Cronut became so popular that a trademark was issued to protect the name. Now numerous adaptations exist such as "dossants."
In a similar fashion, Zac Young’s holiday-themed mash up, “PieCaken”, put a spotlight on his restaurant and career - this luxuriously rich hybrid pastry includes decadent layers of cake and holiday pie with a finish of oat streusel. Not unlike Ansel’s Cronut, Young’s PieCaken resulted in a firestorm of braggadocious social media posts from sugar-saturated fans lucky enough to get in on the highly addicting and ever-so-trendy action.
With the modern pastry market now rife with everything from crepe cakes to churro ice cream cones, the question must be asked: what's driving this trend’s popularity? Perhaps it’s an increasingly health-conscious generation choosing to eat less sugar and thus wanting to cram as many sweet flavors into one serving as possible. Or - and this would seem to be a more likely assertion - perhaps it’s the democratically-driven peer pressure of social media and hybrid desserts grabbing more of our collective attention with the all-too-rampant fear of missing out (FOMO).
In recent years, there is no mistaking social media’s influence throughout the culinary space, providing a landscape where digital influencers and a mass audience protected by the screen between them and their subject matter have the combined power to make or break the success of a dish, restaurant, and/or chef within a single post. So for the time being, it would seem hybrid desserts are enjoying the favor of the social audience at large - and the chefs responsible for leading the charge have the collective approval of their consumers from a granular level.
Who’s to say what the next socially-driven food trend will be? For the time being, we say let them eat PieCaken. Read more about hybrid desserts in this month's featured Chef Spotlight with Sherrie Tan.
Tools for the Taste
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