Wake Up Call

The Townie: London's Answer to the Cronutâ„¢

Cronuts™ have been dominating food news all summer, and New Yorkers are still lining up in the wee hours of the morning to get a taste when the bakery opens at 8 a.m., a trend that -- with the promise of a fig-mascarpone variety in September -- isn't likely to stop anytime soon. Three months after their launch, the uniquely flaky yet creamy pastry is no longer just national news; the sensation is spreading worldwide.

This fad is getting much bigger than the original Cronut™ and has now become a full-scale hybrid dessert obsession. Inspired by Dominique Ansel's croissant-doughnut, last month Britain's Evening Standard challenged baker Bea Vo to put together combos of two other classic sweets to make something new and different. Vo, an American who operates three Bea's of Bloomsbury bakeries in London, was tapped because she is well-known for launching the duffin, a cake doughnut-slash-muffin filled with jam, several years ago.

See also: Cronut™ Battle: Herb Box vs. Karl's Quality Bakery

Evening Standard gave the baker a few mash-ups to whip up, including a muggel (muffin/bagel), waggle (waffle/bagel), muffle (waffle/muffin), and crapjack (croissant/flapjack). The most successful combination, however, was the townie: half-tart, half-brownie. Vo adapted a buttery short crust by underbaking it. Rather than being dry and crumbly like shortbread, underbaking ensured the texture is flaky and a little gooey to complement the brownies. Then she filled the crust with her chocolatey brownie mix for the ultimate comfort food mash-up.

Townies are available in London at Bea's of Bloomsbury, and like the Cronut™, they are selling out very early every day. Phoenix bakers have already been busy crafting their versions of the croissant-doughnut and will hopefully get on the tart-brownie bandwagon soon.

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Dominique Chatterjee