Deep End Decade: Deconstructing the Milky Bun at Afters Ice Cream.
PreGel booth at the Winter Fancy Food Show 2013 in San Francisco.
Dominique Ansel's Cronut has captured the imagination of foodies and pastry chefs all over the globe. If you've been living in Gitmo and didn't know, the Cronut is the delicately delicious croissant and donut fusion that commands lines of up to 4 hours long. It's also ignited a sometimes ridiculous frenzy to invent the next mash-up food fad like the Ramen Burger or the Crogel (croissant and bagel hybrid). About a couple of weeks ago, yet another melded munchie has emerged from the culinary world. It's called Milky Bun, and it comes from Afters Ice Cream located in the bedroom burb of Fountain Valley in the OC.
PreGel representative demoing the Panini Gelato press.
Milky Bun's concept is this: take two halves of a donut, plop ice cream in the center, and seal them together. Voilà! Milky Bun! The sensual beauty of the Milky Bun are the contrasting temperatures from the warm donut and the cold ice cream as well as the textural differences of spongy and creamy from its respective components. I know this about the Milky Bun and yet I've never eaten one. I probably won't try one any time soon especially with that massive hours long line. (The line for the Ramen Burger when it hit LA was insane enough.) I know what Milky Bun is like because I pretty much tasted one almost exactly a year ago at a trade show called Fancy Food Show.
The specific show I attended was the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. I remember wandering around the convention hall and being overwhelmed by the vastness of the place and the sheer multitude of exhibitors. However, through all the clutter of cheese wheels and candy dispensers, I honed in on a booth occupied by PreGel, a specialty dessert ingredient manufacturer and distributor. What PreGel was sampling drew large crowds. And as people got their sweet sample, they walked away excitedly chirping about it. I shuffled up to get mine and, when I got it, I knew instantly this was a great concept.
The PreGel Panini Gelato.
The PreGel Panini Gelato is a system that creates a dessert "panini" filled with gelato. But more precisely, it's a donut filled with ice cream or whatever frozen dessert. PreGel either sells or leases the Panini Gelato Machine and supplies the dessert's components: Sweet Panini Bun, PreGel gelato or frozen yogurt flavor, and toppings. So basically, the Panini Gelato is a Milky Bun.
Although I can't be completely positive that Afters Ice Cream is utilizing the PreGel system, the technique is pretty much the same. The Milky Bun is not nearly as time intensive to construct or skillfully made as the Cronut (even a bonobo can make a Milky Bun) but that doesn't mean Milky Bun is not as good or even better than a Cronut. That's up to the taster.
I remember enthusiastically telling my friends and family that I saw one of the greatest dessert makers ever invented at the Fancy Food Show. I remember saying that this thing will be big. I even considered investing in one and somehow selling the pastries. I went as far as naming my fantasy food the "Fro-nut" short for frozen donut. I know, I know, super clever! But as with anything in life, action speaks louder than words, and real Milky Buns will always taste better than my imaginary Fro-nuts.
I can always dream...
Afters Handcrafted Ice Cream, 18030 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, CA 92708