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Cronut Craze Sparks LI Donut-Pastry (R)Evolution
The craze that ensued after Scott Bollman introduced his latest magical pastry concoction at The Cheese Emporium & Cafe was totally unintended, he swears.
The shop, known for, well, its cheese and other delectable delights, introduced the Sconut as a spoof on the immensely popular Cronut, a crunchy donut-croissant hybrid ingeniously imagined by Chef Dominique Ansel in Manhattan.
The staff unveiled the scone-donut combination during the summer of 2013, and the donut on steroids—figuratively speaking, of course—flew off his shelves by the dozens, every day. Bollman, who now laughs about the Sconut obsession, has firmly entrenched himself in the donut-hybrid craze gripping America.
“How many people have done this already?” he asks, excitedly. “It was just a silly trend that took notice; I don’t know how it came to be something so blown up.”
Actually, while Bollman was in the process of introducing the Sconut to the masses, he turned to his father one day, and jokingly or not, prophesized: “‘Watch people go crazy over this.’”
“I didn’t think it would get any press!” he laughs.
Bollman, chef and co-owner of The Cheese Emporium, which will celebrate its 40-year anniversary in idyllic Greenport Village, admits his creation was born from Ansel’s Cronut.
But he’s not the only Long Islander developing specialty donuts that have customers yearning for more. Over in Huntington at Fiorello Dolce, owner Gerard Fioravanti finally granted his customers’ wishes and introduced his own croissant-donut pastry, which he calls the French Donut. It comes in about a half-dozen different styles, and all are absolutely mouthwatering. Shoot out to Spiga Bakery in Bellmore and ask co-owners/brothers Robert and Luca Caravello for the Inis—a heavenly Sicilian-Zeppoli donut stuffed with cannoli cream and Ricotta and coated in sugar. Mangia, mangia!
Their creativity shines in these tasty creations.
“I didn’t even want to make rainbow cookies,” says Fioravanti, who grew up in the Bronx, studied at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, worked at a French pastry shop in the city, and visited France, where he soaked in the culture. “I didn’t want to be the typical baker.”
“We decided to bring that here to Huntington,” he says on a brisk afternoon inside his cozy bakery, a jubilant aroma of desserts wafting joyously throughout the small shop.
Fiorvanti’s French Donuts made its way to the shelves about eight months ago, after customers familiar with the Cronut inquired if he made them.
They became a crowd-pleaser almost immediately.
Fiorvanti’s favorite is the Salted Caramel French Donut, a palate-pleasing crunch of salty-and-sweet flavors that mingle and dance upon the taste buds like soul mates who’ve at long last found one another after eternities apart.
On any given day, customers can walk in and find a host of other flavors: Caramel with Pears and Candied Ginger, Chocolate Raspberry (he only uses raspberry jam from Switzerland), Belgium Chocolate, Nutella with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Vermont Maple Syrup, and Peanut Butter and Jelly with Banana, drizzled with chocolate (affectionately known in the Press newsroom as “The Elvis”).
Fiorvanti follows the same strict philosophy with his French Donuts as with the dozens of other items served at Fiorello Dolce: Nothing is fried.
“Baking is healthier for you,” he adds.
The homely Italian Spiga Bakery, run by the Caravello Brothers and nestled in a small shopping center in Bellmore, is known for its prosciutto bread, among other fresh, inviting baked goodies. Robert and Luca have been baking since they were children.
Robert Caravello, 41, majored in American Literature in college but was drawn to the family business.
“Because it’s a family-run business, because it’s something that’s been passed down, we take a lot of pride in it,” Caravello says. “If we don’t like something or if we don’t like the way it came out, we don’t look at the cost of throwing it out. We look at the cost of putting it out and people not liking it.”
Spiga offers about a dozen types of donuts at any given time—Banana Custard and Nutella, Italian Custard with Ganache (their take on the Boston Cream), Vanilla Sprinkles, and everyone’s favorite, the venerable Jelly Donut—including seasonal donuts that allow the baking brothers to get their creative juices flowing.
During New Year’s they sold a champagne-glazed donut coated in edible glitter, a glitzy dessert that turned heads and became an immediate hit.
But it’s the Inis that is well on its way to surpass Spiga’s Banana Nutella option as the top-selling donut on the menu.
The donut is fried on the outside, yet the dough is soft and moist inside. Every bite is a glorious awakening that shocks the body and hangs around until the journey takes you to the delicious cannoli cream-filling finale heaven.
“It goes down better, it feels better, it tastes better,” says Caravello, comparing Spiga’s donuts to the mass-produced varieties. “You can tell it’s a custard that hasn’t been sitting in a refrigerator. It’s been taken care of properly.”
But those wanting to relish the Inis’ supreme hybrid glory must arrive early, warns Caravello, for the magic pastries vanish almost as soon as they are laid out for sale!
Out on the North Fork, Greenport’s The Cheese Emporium had been churning out scones for years before Bollman combined it with donuts.
Visitors of the four-decade-old shop can try a variety of Sconuts: Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Raisin, or a fruit-based option.
“People enjoy it; we glaze it, we do different types, different flavors…and it became very popular,” Bollman says. “We pretty much make any type.”
It’s become so popular that the shop now offers deliveries through Bollman’s wife’s online business (Farm2KitchenLongIsland).
When he first launched his superstar hybrid donut, he started fielding calls from NPR and other media outlets, hungry to hear its scrumptious history (and undoubtedly sample a few). An idea born out of a spoof has turned his family-run business into a must-visit shop in Greenport, and the Sconut craze doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
“It became a mainstay,” he says.