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Here in the age of the interwebs, a single topic can be beaten to death overnight. So you could be forgiven for thinking the cronut is old news. After all, even Dunkin' Donuts has a "croissant doughnut."
But when pastry chef Dominique Ansel introduced his cronut back in May 2013, it was truly revolutionary. People spent hours in line and cronut scalpers gleefully charged hundreds of dollars for a taste of the ingenious Franken-pastry. Now the recipe, adapted for home cooks, is included in the new book, Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes.
This week on The Sporkful, we go beyond the hype with Dominique Ansel and Hugh Merwin, the Grub Street food editor who introduced this marvel of confectionery engineering to the world. (Dominique joined me and Radiolab's Robert Krulwich on stage at the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC.)
"I grew up eating croissants, and I really love the texture, the layers, and the flakiness," Dominique explains. "I wanted to do something fun that would bring American and French culture together."
But is it as good as the hype? Hugh Merwin says once a food gets that much baggage, it's hard to eat objectively. All he can do is recall his first bite of cronut, before the madness.
"It blew my mind," Hugh recalls. "The cronut was simulataneously this old-school donut and...also this beautiful thing to look at, and it did have the layers and the structure of a croissant."
I had never had a cronut--before or after the hype--so I had my friend Emily Konn, a professional pastry chef, make some for me using Dominque's at home recipe. In the Greene Space I ask Dominique to try them and share his thoughts.
Plus, Dominique tells us how he feels about the cronut's many imitators.
"I'm happy and excited to inspire the world, but every chef and every business should have their own creations," he says. "It's just a matter of thinking a little bit differently."
Dominique still eats a cronut every day. (The old "quality control" excuse.) Take it from an expert -- the best way to eat a cronut is to cut it in half first.
But while Dominique revels in the cronut's delicately layered honeycomb interior, Hugh's cronut strategy focuses on pinpointing the creamy filling.
"You could hit a pocket of ganache," he says. "Some ooze more than others, and I think that dictates how you handle the cronut."
Photos: Matthew Septimus