by Alicia Lieu
Be sure to check out the recipes at the end of this post and check back every month as Alicia shares her adventures of How I Met My Dinner!
Dominique Ansel’s creation of the Cronut has not just New York, but pretty much the whole world, buzzing about this croissant/donut hybrid. Since the Cronut is trademarked, copycats have sprung up all around including the Zonuts, Frissants, Dossants, Cro-Nots, Dough’Ssants. If you haven’t heard of the Cronut, here’s the condensed version of the hype.
It takes up to three days for Dominique Ansel and his staff to make a Cronut. Each morning the SoHo bakery has 200 Cronuts available for sale. People begin lining up outside around the block by 6 a.m. There is a two Cronut per person limit and the secondary market for Cronuts could bring in anywhere from $20-$45 per Cronut, as seen on Craigslist.
The flavor of the Cronut changes each month. In July it was blackberry and in August it was coconut. One day a colleague informed me that he was going to get up early and wait in line for Cronuts and extended the invitation to me. My response was, “It is way too early and way too hot to be waiting on line for hours for a Cronut. I really want to eat one, but I really don’t want to wait in line.” I was secretly hoping he would say, “Ok, I’ll save you one!” but that would have been way too easy! His reply to that was, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too…literally!”
Well, it turns out that he was wrong. Another colleague had done her research and saw on the Cronuts 101 page that the bakery takes reservations by phone each Monday, starting at 11 a.m. So she said that she would include me if she was able to get a reservation. Two Mondays later, I received an email saying, “After 96 agonizing attempts on 2 phones, we got through! 6 delicious, crispy, hot and decadent Cronuts are ours to share!” It actually did feel a little bit like winning the lottery, as much as I could imagine winning the lottery might feel like, anyways. All I had to do was show up and eat them! And so, that’s what I did.
I took the F train from Queens to SoHo and walked right through the door as I surveyed the line of people outside the bakery. I had to resist the urge to walk by the line and let people know that I had a reservation. We decided to eat the Cronuts at the bakery, since we also wanted to try the Frozen S’more- frozen nougat covered in chocolate and enrobed by a thin layer of marshmallow which was toasted all around. It was quite delicious but also quite sweet. I was glad I had ordered a large coffee to go with the baked goods.
As we tore into and relished the freshly made Cronuts, we witnessed the line of folks getting let into the store about 10 at a time. Just after I had finished my first Cronut, two ladies sat down next to us and said, “Can we buy one of those Cronuts from you?” They had waited in the line but they missed the cutoff by two people. The second to last person had bought two, but only wanted one, but as soon as the next person in line offered to buy it, another customer jumped in and offered to pay $30 for it, since it was his girlfriend’s birthday that day. One of the two ladies was going back to Turkey to teach English and lamented that she had waited until the last day of her visit back to the States to attempt the Cronut line. The thought did cross my mind to sell my last Cronut for $30 (or perhaps even $40) but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that, especially after hearing about her experiences with the protests in Turkey. So I offered half of my remaining Cronut to them so they could at least try them. They even offered to pay me for half the Cronut, but I just didn’t feel right about taking money for it. I was actually quite full at that point because it is croissant dough deep fried, coated in sugar, filled with pastry cream and topped with icing, after all. Oh, and the coconut flavor was perfection, considering that I’m not even really a fan of coconut. I had my cake and ate it, too!
I do plan on returning to Dominique Ansel’s bakery even if I can’t get a Cronut. We tasted some of the other ladies’ TKA and the coffee was out of this world. The regular pastries looked absolutely perfect, as well. Hype or no hype, Dominique Ansel’s bakery and his outstanding staff deserve kudos for excellence.
Recipe: Easy Croughnut
2 eight oz. cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 box pudding mix (any flavor)
2 cups milk
Canola oil for frying
Superfine sugar for dusting
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cups confectioners’ sugar
Prepare pudding as directed on the package. After the pudding thickens, let it come to room temperature. Pop open the cans of crescent rolls and gently unfold the dough, pressing the seams of the triangles together to form rectangles. Stack the rectangles on top of each other, roll out the dough, fold the dough over and repeat 4 times to get layers in the dough so that you end up with the dough being 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into squares. Prepare oil 3 inches deep in a pan for frying.
Fry the Croughnuts 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oil and set on paper towels. Toss to evenly coat the Croughnuts in superfine sugar. Using a pastry bag and tip, inject pudding through the top of the Croughnuts in four evenly spaced holes.
For the Glaze: Combine milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until warm. Sift confectioners’ sugar into milk mixture. Whisk slowly, until well combined. Remove from heat. Then dip the top of each Croughnut in the glaze and serve.