The cronut was invented by Dominique Ansel in New York in 2012. It is only sold at Dominique Ansel Bakery, on Spring Street. This glorious hybrid of a croissant and a donut is quite possibly the most deliciously decadent pastry I have every had (and I’m a pastry connoisseur). I had a cronut for the first time in 2013, when I visited New York City on one of my holidays to see a friend. We went down to Dominique Ansel’s and bought a couple of them. They were a little steep, at $5 a piece, but I soon realized that they were worth it! There is only 1 flavor each month, and when I was there the flavor was lemon maple. Now, you may not think lemon and maple go together…but they really do…amazingly. These things are so good that, when they were first introduced, people would buy a dozen and sell them for as much as $100 each, because they would sell out very quickly. Luckily that madness has ended, and I was able to get mine for the $5 price!
First, a little primer. The cronut is a layered butter pastry dough (like a croissant) that is fried in grapeseed oil, and then filled and finished like a donut. They are everything a donut could be and more…because they’re also everything a croissant could be. These things are amazing. Here is the website for Dominique Ansel Bakery: http://dominiqueansel.com/cronut-101/, it describes the cronut in all its glory.
As with any glorious creation, the fakes ensued, and now it seems like everyone in town has got some kind of cronut. It got so bad that Dominique Ansel had to file a trademark suit to keep the name “cronut” for herself and her bakery. That didn’t stop the “doughssants” and “croughnuts” from coming about. After a while, people just gave up on the ridiculous portmanteaus and started calling them “croissant donuts” or “donut croissants.” I have tried some of the imposters, and they are not cronuts!! They are cheaply-made, less flavorful lesser products that don’t deserve to even be in the same category as the cronut. I guess it’s a testament to her ingenuity that so many chefs and large companies have now copied her idea. Even my favorite place, Starbucks, has their own version. It’s horrible (and you know how difficult it is for me to say that about ANYTHING at Starbucks).
When doing the research for this post, I came upon dozens of do-it-yourself cronut recipes for the home bakers. I guess some people might be such great bakers that they can mimic the taste of the original cronut at home, but those people are very few and far between. The cronut is a marvel of ingenuity and taste. People need to allow it to remain that. Flooding the market with cheap knock-offs is only going to diminish the original product into obscurity and cause people to associate it with those tasteless “faux-nuts!” I’m happy that Dominique Ansel trademarked her name, so we know that anything called a “cronut” is actually HER cronut and not some mass produced, frozen for distribution hockey puck! I would love to have one right now, but I’ll have to wait until I’m in New York in a few weeks. It’s worth the wait!