That same year, Chef Dominique Ansel changed the pastry world with the Cronut, a proprietary recipe that was the perfect marriage of croissant and doughnut. He could have stopped right there, but he continues to come up with groundbreaking new desserts at Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City.
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Pastry chef Waylynn Lucas is also pushing the boundaries of circular sweets. She opened her Los Angeles bakery, Fonuts, in 2009, which specializes in faux donuts, baked or steamed but never fried.
"We…offer a lot of vegan, gluten-free items," Lucas said. "[We] just try to put a healthier modern twist on the classic dessert that everyone loves."
Fonuts flavors include the old standbys that dessert fans have enjoyed for years, such as glazed, chocolate with sprinkles and vanilla cream filled. But Lucas has also created such varieties as chorizo cheddar, coconut passion fruit and blueberry Earl Grey, none of which can be found at the 7-Eleven.
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For lovers of circular sweets, the future looks bright. This summer and fall, Dunkin' Donuts is marrying the coffee-and-doughnut concept with two new products—the glazed coffee creme doughnut and the coffee, cream and sugar doughnut. If that news puts a smile on your face, then it's doing its job.
"I want to make people happy," she said. "That's what a bakery should be all about. It's baked goods and you can't be in a bad mood when you're eating ice cream, or eating a fonut."
—By CNBC's Liza Hughes
CORRECTION: This version corrected the timing of Dunkin' Donuts' release for its glazed coffee creme doughnut.