Starting tomorrow, this round, glazed thing you see before you will be added to the permanent collection at Dominique Ansel Bakery. Because it's part croissant and part doughtnut, the pastry chef is, appropriately, calling it a cronut. (Go ahead, say cwaahh-nut, you know, French style.) Each one of these puppies is made from pastry dough that's been sheeted, laminated, proofed, then fried like a doughnut and rolled in flavored sugar. But that's not all: Cronuts-to-be are also filled with a not-so-sweet Tahitian vanilla cream, given a fresh coat of rose glaze, and bedazzled with rose sugar. Got it? Good. Let's briefly examine the sheer implausibility and engineering genius that goes into each one of these things.
First off, call your friendly neighborhood pastry chef and ask him or her what happens when you try to fry croissant dough. It's not pretty. Even if the laminated layers don't separate instantly and part ways in the hot oil six ways to Sunday, chances are that yeast-leavened dough will have a lumpy, sad, and uneven ascent before it ever gets to the golden brown stage. Ansel says it took around ten recipes and adjustments to multiple variables of time and temperature before he found a special trick to sheeting the dough, then learning to fry it in grapeseed oil at one specific (and somewhat secret) temperature.
The fried cronut looks like this on the inside:
To finish, it's filled with cream, another feat that's also a bit difficult to pull off in a pastry that has a punched-out center hole. The finished cronut tastes a lot like a classic glazed doughnut, but pretty much more awesome, and its layers peel apart like those in a mille crepe cake.*
Ansel's ongoing work with religieuses and his reinvention of the fraisier already had us convinced that the pastry chef routinely dares to dream at his Soho shop and is never content to rest on his macarons (though those are also very good), but this is just sort of nuts. It's a bold step forward for pastry.
Cronuts are $5.00 apiece and go on sale tomorrow at the bakery, just in time for Mother's Day. Flavors will change: Next month's cronut will have lemon maple glaze, maple syrup cream, and slightly salted sugar on the sides.
Dominique Ansel Bakery, 189 Spring St., nr. Thompson St.; 212-219-2773