Imagine if a doughnut and a muffin had a one-night stand. Yes, what looks like an ordinary circular pastry is actually the progeny of two better-known desserts. And though the concept sounds bizarre, it’s a sweets-lover's dream turned sugary reality.
The velvety treat, which oozes a creamy filling, is called a duffin. It’s a cross between a doughnut and a muffin, creating a bite-size cake doughnut in muffin form. The crisp exterior and feathery-soft interior are felt with each bite, making it difficult for any confection lover to gracefully resist.
Duffins fall into the mix of 21st-century culinary hybrids, where concepts like cronuts (a cross between a croissant and a doughnut) and crookies (a croissant-Oreo blend) are commonly found in pastry shops in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Though Miami is fashionably late when it comes to food trends, duffins have emerged in the 305, sprouting up across local bakeries, including the Design District’s Crumb on Parchment and Wynwood’s Miam Café.
This dessert craze's origins can be traced across the pond to Bea’s of Bloomsbury, a London tearoom founded by baker Bea Vo, who fancies innovative dessert hybrids. She has experimented with muffles (muffin and waffle) and townies (tartlet-brownie). But most famously, she’s known for creating duffins, which were first sold in her London-based shop in 2008.
Though Vo’s doughnut-muffin concoction stemmed from a love for inventive pastries, it has since morphed into #Duffingate thanks to Starbucks launching a nearly identical product with the same name.
Since the social media frenzy, Starbucks, Vo, and a bevy of other pastry spots have taken a stake in the duffin movement (if you can even call it that), selling unique iterations of the treat. As something with twice the sweetness (and calories), it’s no wonder why.
Miam Café’s James Seyba says the inspiration to make them in-house came from Starbucks, not Vo. The café makes three two-dozen batches daily. They retail for $2 for three duffins, and Seyba says they’re never more than five hours old when ordered.
“It started out as a special,” he says. “But now they’ve definitely turned into a signature item. They’re never coming off.”
Seyba jokes that patrons feel like they’re not, as he puts it, “cheating as much” thanks to the treat's small (and deceiving) size. Though that’s not entirely true, they’re still worth each calorie-filled bite.
At Miam, Seyba and his team cook each one in a baby-muffin tin like one used to cook regular muffins. The batter, he says, is denser than normal to create a creamier texture. They tend to soufflé at the top, which gives each one a muffin-like appearance. Each one is rolled in cinnamon or white-powdered sugar and infused with a jam or cream filling. Flavors range from Eternity Coffee Roasters-inspired cream, lemon curd, Nutella, and mixed berry. There’s also a regular cinnamon one, sans filling.
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“They’re just like a regular pastry,” he says. “They’re not made with anything bad or unhealthy, though. They’re exactly what you’d expect — flour, butter, and sugar. Anything is good in moderation.” Jessica Hernandez, Crumb on Parchment’s pastry chef, makes duffins almost weekly. She sticks to strawberry-rhubarb ($2.75), topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and a strawberry slice.
"I've been seeing them grow in popularity in bakeries around the States," she says. "I thought they'd be a great addition to my rotation. The customers love them. They fly off of the counter rather quickly."
As Miami’s gastronomical scene grows, so does the availability of popular food trends that frequently circulate in other big-name metro areas. The prevalence of duffins, though tasty and fun, proves Miami's culinary landscape is growing, marking a major step for our city in the sweetest and creamiest of ways.