The press has been chirping a lot lately about cricket flour -- a high-protein flour substitute made from ground up crickets (aka "cricket meal"). While the number of companies offering of cricket flour products you can buy online is growing, and already includes protein bars, chips, oatmeal and the always popular plain roasted crickets, fresh cricket-based baked good are still relatively hard to come by. No longer, at least in Portland.
This month, two stores in the Pacific Coast city are giving their customers a chance to try the latest superfood in the sweetest way imaginable -- with Cricket Doughnuts. Voodoo Doughnuts and Sesame Donuts are both offering a Cricket Doughnut this month in partnership with Cricket Flours. Their customers can now sample the yummy Bavarian Cricket Cream Doughnut at Voodoo Doughnuts, and check out the Vanilla Caked Cricket Doughnut at Sesame Donuts.
The Bavarian Cricket Cream Doughnut has a topping of Rice Krispies, roasted crickets, and a peanut butter drizzle on top of chocolate icing. The inside is filled with a rich Bavarian cream mixed with Cricket Flour's pure powder. The Vanilla Caked Cricket Doughnut is a cake doughnut topped with vanilla icing and Cricket Flour's pure powder that, according to Cricket Flour's founder Charles Wilson "combines well with the softness of the cake doughnut by accentuating the nutty tones of the cricket powder."
Cricket Flours first approached Voodoo Doughnuts and Sesame Doughnuts with the idea of doing a cricket-based line, because the company was getting a lot of inquires from stores and caterers. "They were looking for products with crickets and couldn't find anything," Wilson explains. "If you search online, you can find a lot of cricket flour products, but you can't find any great cricket baked goods."
Rather than just substituting cricket flour in an existing recipe, the companies worked together to create something new. "We paired the roasted crickets with Rice Krispies and a peanut butter drizzle because they each compliment different flavors. Roasted crickets have a delicate naturally nutty taste -- almost like toasted pine nuts. We combined the crisp crunch of the Rice Krispies with the smooth peanut butter taste of the drizzle. We also mixed the Cricket Flour's 100% Pure Cricket Powder with Bavarian Cream and it almost looks and tastes like natural vanilla bean," he continues.
Wilson thinks even skeptical consumers will enjoy these treats. "Some people will never try insect-based foods, but we really worked to pair the flavors of these doughnuts so that it tastes like a delicious doughnut, but offers the bonus protein of crickets."
Novelty and Halloween dares aside, the cricket flour makes the doughnut healthy -- or at least healthier. "The crickets add to the flavor and also add extra protein and nutrition including omega-rich oils, calcium, iron, and B12," Wilson notes.
While the idea of insect-based foods still creeps out a lot of people, Wilson is convinced that crickets are the future of food and that the doughnut is the perfect starter food for this new trend. "I think we are already seeing the shift in the doughnut industry to providing new gourmet doughnuts with unique toppings and flavors; this is just an expansion of available ingredients that are also sustainable, healthy and environmentally friendly."
Cricket and other insect protein may well be a key way to feed the planet in the coming decades. "The United Nations published a report finding that we must find new and creative ways to feed over 9 billion people by the year 2050. I think for most Western cultures, it isn't going to be an overnight switch to edible insects instead of other current protein sources. However, incorporating them in new ways now is a way to introduce a new food, and start getting people to try insect-based food products," Wilson says. He claims that once they get over the "ick" factor, most people enjoy the taste.
Wilson founded Cricket Flours in 2014 after having some health complications which required him to "remove loads of ingredients" from his own diet. "I stumbled upon edible insects as a protein source that I could use in my own diet since I could no longer ingest other proteins," he explains. His mission is now to provide a full line of edible insect products through food producers and retailers. In addition to doughnuts, Wilson worked with Wayback Burgers last year to launch the first Cricket Milkshake and recently successfully launched the company's newest home product -- a Chocolate Cricket Brownie Mix -- to make baking with cricket protein easier for new consumers. For cricket protein enthusiasts, Wilson offers a full Cricket Flour Cookbook already in its second edition.