Invented in New York in 2013, nowadays sold all over the world – the Cronut is one of the most famous food items out there. And buying one at its birthplace, the Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho, New York, is an experience.
The Cronut is shaped as a donut but flaky as a croissant, hence its name Cro(issant) + (Do)nut, here with Lychee Rose Jam and Pistachio Ganache.
It seems strange to me know, but I haven’t always been the foodie I am now. So no matter how famous it was, the Cronut only rang a little bell somewhere in a dark corner of my mind, when I‘ve read about it while researching dishes for THE LIST. While there are a few (more or less regular) donuts on THE LIST and in New York, let me asure you: The Cronut is different.
First of all, because it is not only sold in New York, but has been invented there. But also, because the Cronut has a special, let’s say, character. What looks like a donut on first sight, is actually a donut croissant hybrid, that brings together s donut‘s typical shape but is made of flaky croissant dough. As soon as I‘ve heard this, I knew: I just had to try it. And if you get the chance, you want to do so in the original Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York (Soho). It’s not about the famous pastry itself, but about the show and fame around it.
This is no Joke: Basic Cronut Facts
French Baker Dominique Ansel opened the bakery in 2011 and has made himself a name with various inventions: the cookie milk shots, a fancy watermelon softserve, frozen s’mores – and the Cronut, which is his most famous pastry. Kind of funny, because it combines the French an American kitchen. As in: You get a flaky, multi-layered puff pastry in the shape of a donut. This the baker combines with a thoughtful flavor combinations regarding the filling. No, the Cronut is no joke.
I always have to look up the monthly flavor of when I went, because Dominique Ansel doesn’t stick with usual flavors known from donuts like Strawberry with sprinkles or simple chocolate glaze. He is more of an experimental guy and, well, a trained chef, which is why the flavor combinations are quite sophisticated. He started with Rose Vanilla in May 2013 and is getting wilder ever since. Former flavour combinations include Morello Cherry with Toasted Almond Cream (July 2014), Matcha Golden Pineapple (March 2015), and Blueberry Elderflower w/ Lime Sugar (June 2016). Within the said month, only Cronuts with this specific flavor are available, so each flavor is available for one month only. There are no repetitions. I told you, they’re taking it seriously.
Buying a Cronut is an Event
I’ve already mentioned Ansel’s inventive mind which brought us many famous treats from his bakery. One of which, the DKA – kind of a caramelized croissant – was served to me while waiting in line for the Cronut. It was a Sunday morning, cold, as I went in February. I’ve read that people start lining up for the Cronut two hours prior to opening, which is why I decided to go on a Sunday. Sundays the bakery opens at 9am, while on any other day they already open at 8am. So I was quite curious – and quite tired – when I arrived at around 7:30am. There already was a line of like 50 people, and even after I bought my Cronut many people were lining up, as you can see in the background of this picture:
It was a funny yet strange experience. Which for me already started with the line, because in Germany you usually don’t have to line up for food. As in 5-minutes-at-McDonalds-but-that’s-it. Not lining up as it was understood here. But, as I learned at that day, you also don’t have to line up for a Cronut in New York. You can pay someone to do that for you. Like, seriously. Some guys walked past the line handing us a business card reading “Cool line dudes.” They’ll line up for everything so you don’t have to – food, concert tickets, autograms … Another way to skip the Cronut line is pre-ordering a Cronut. Find all details about that on the bakery’s website.
Nevertheless, I recommend the whole Cronut experience with lining up and everything, because it’s just so much more fun. The bakery team always serves treats to those lining up, while explaining the official Cronut rules, which are the following.
The Official Cronut Rules
1. There is only one flavor available and it’ll change after a month.
2. One is allowed to buy a maximum of 2 Cronuts per person for in-store purchases (you can get 6 Cronuts when pre-ordering online).
3. As the bakery is pretty small, a few people get inside and the last one outside has to carry a plastic baguette. When everyone is served, they come outside, the next group is allowed to get in and the plastic baguette is passed on.
And if you think that’s enough, I’m going to stop you right there. Additional to these there is an instruction on the inside of the Cronut package, to make sure you don’t spoil your own Cronut experience. It says that the Cronut is best within 6-8 hours after buying and you shouldn’t put it into the fridge, due to the humidity. Also, don’t think about reheating the Cronut, as this will liquify the ganache on the inside. Additionally they advise you to be careful if cutting a Cronut, as you don’t want to destroy the puff pastry’s layers. Yeeees, they’re taking it seriously. Which was quite an experience to me.
So, How Did the Cronut Taste?
I’ve gotta say, after all these rules I have one more to add: Don’t expect too much from the pastry itself. Because of all I’ve heard about the Cronut and seeing about 263936352 pictures in Instagram, I was quite excited when I finally got to try it. Even though I’m not a big lychee fan – and the flavor in this month was Lychee Rose Jam and Pistachio Ganache – but I really wanted to try the Cronut and well, there wasn’t much of a choice, so I went for it.
As the croissant lover I am (especially since I’ve discovered Union Fare) I loved the flaky puff pastry with all its soft layers inside the cronut. The outside ones were slightly crunchy, though still a bit too greasy for me. However, I actually liked the fruity freshness of the Lychee inside, as it counterbalanced this “friedness” of the Cronut itself. Nevertheless, I wasn’t able to taste rose or pistachio at all and even though it looks impressive when cut, after all I’ve read, I did expect more from the Cronut, taste-wise. The contrary was the case, while the experience itself was quite interesting, the Cronut itself couldn’t convince me. Which, on the other hand, I found quite strange, which is why I’d go back for another flavor as soon as I can make it. And: I’ll recommend going there nevertless, but more for the event than for the pastry itself.
How to find the Dominique Ansel Bakery:
189 Spring Street (between Sullivan and Thompson)
Mon – Thurs: 8am – 7pm
Fri – Sat: 8am – 8pm
Sun: 9am – 7pm
Of course, you can also get the Cronut at the other Dominique Ansel Bakeries in Tokyo, London and LA.