Emily JacobsWhat could be better than a hybrid pastry of donut and croissant?
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The cronut, a "baked good heard round the mediasphere," according to Vogue magazine, is just that - flaky, buttery dough that's deep-fried to golden brown perfection, and then filled with cream and glazed. Since its debut in the spring of 2013, the cronut has launched into an international phenomenon, and with a dedicated following. With its burgeoning popularity, the donut-meets-croissant is in high demand - and has even found its way onto the black market.
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The mastermind behind the cronut craze is pastry chef and owner of Manhattan's Domnique Ansel Bakery, Dominique Ansel, who invented the circular treat to blend his French upbringing with an American classic. Word on the street is that Ansel's secrets include using croissant-like dough, which he then fries in grapeseed oil. The result is a light and flaky cronut that is finished in three ways: rolled in sugar, filled with cream, and topped with glaze.
As you may have guessed, we tried replicating it, too. We were up for the challenge and based our recipe on classic croissant dough. Taken from what we know about the original cronut recipe, we fried in ours in grapeseed oil and finished it by giving it a dusting of sugar, filling it with cream, and topping with glaze. While Ansel's version takes a lengthy three days to complete, we've skillfully compressed it down to one - if you start early! So while cronut-craving tourists and New Yorkers are lining up, hundreds-deep, to get their hands on one, you'll have no problem scoring the elusive pastry with our recipe at home - that we think just might rival the original.
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For the vanilla cream:
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cronut *:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups grapeseed oil
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup vanilla cream
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water
For the vanilla cream:
Heat the milk and 1/2 of the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, being careful not to burn the milk.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, other 1/2 of the sugar, flour, and salt. Remove the milk from the heat and slowly whisk it into the egg-flour mixture. When all of the milk has been incorporated, add the mixture back into the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly and vigorously, until the mixture is boiling and thick. Stir in the vanilla extract and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
Place plastic wrap directly on the service of the cream so a skin does not form. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the cronut *:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and softened butter. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and water and heat to just above body temperature. Whisk in the yeast with the warm milk and water and let stand for 5 minutes until foamy. Add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 1 minute until there are no dry spots. Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cove with a damp cloth and place in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Once the dough has risen, punch down dough and chill for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place the butter in between 2 pieces of parchment paper and using a rolling pin, flatten and shape into an 8-by-8-inch square.
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Once butter block is ready, roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-by-12-inch square. Place the butter square on top of the dough square so that the corners of the butter block are pointing to the sides of the dough square. Gently fold the corners of the dough over the butter block to meet in the middle. Pinch together the dough at the seams so the butter block is completely sealed. Using a rolling pin, pound the dough slightly to make it easier to roll out. Roll dough out into a 20-by-8-inch rectangle. Brush off any excess flour and fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Repeat the folding and chilling process 2 more times.
Once dough is chilled after its final fold, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 6-by-18-inch rectangle. Cut into 6-by-6-inch squares and stack the squares on top of each other. Roll the dough into a 6-by-8-inch rectangle. Using ring cutters, cut 12 donut shapes out of the dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the donuts with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the dough does not spring back when lightly pressed, about 30 minutes.
Place the oil in a large pot and heat to 350 degrees. Fry donuts for about 1½ minutes, rotating them in the oil halfway through, until they are golden brown all over. Place on a paper towel lined plate to cool.
In a bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Fill a piping bag fitted with a long narrow tip with vanilla cream. In a separate bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and water. Add more water if necessary, but make sure glaze is not too watery.
Inject the cronut with vanilla cream, roll in sugar, and drip glaze over the top.
Notes and Substitutions:
*The authors of this recipe strongly encourage you to use metric measurements for the cronut's dry ingredients if you own a scale and are able to. The metric measurements for these are as follows: 500 grams flour, 65 grams sugar, 10 grams salt, 20 grams softened butter, 190 grams water, 100 grams milk, 11 grams dry active yeast, 230 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature.Related: America's Best Donut Shops
-Emily Jacobs, The Daily Meal