The Cronut is doughnut-croissant hybrid pastry invented by the American pastry chef Dominique Ansel. In 2013 he launched the Cronut at his New York bakery, and within days the product became a online viral sensation with hundreds of New Yorkers queuing outside his bakery for hours. They became in so much demand, that a “black market” for Cronuts sprang up, with reported prices as high as $100 each!
In a shrewd business move, Dominique Ansel registered the Cronut trademark, ensuring that only his bakeries can officially market these pastries as Cronuts. The remarkable success has inspired a number of imitations in North America, with the “Crullant” in Los Angeles and “Doissants”in Washington. The craze also reached Australia with the “Zonut” in Sydney.
Dominique Ansel’s bakery in London opened its doors on the 30 September 2016. There were reports that people had been queuing outside since 5am (3 hours before opening) to be one of the first in the UK to get their hands on a Cronut. At the time I was working near the bakery in Belgravia, and so I thought I should buy some to find out what the fuss is all about.
First of all, its worth knowing that you won’t necessarily be able to buy a Cronut without ordering online first. This can be done easily enough via the bakery’s website, where you’ll also make payment. At £4 each, they’re pretty pricey, so I ordered just the two for Becky and I. The maximum that can be ordered is six, perhaps as an attempt to deter any profiteering re-sellers. During ordering, you also need to select a pick-up day, which may be up to two weeks’ time. I ordered ours in November, when the Cronut flavour of the month was Sour Cherry with White Almond Ganache and Vanilla Sugar – the flavours change each month, which I imagine helps with repeat custom.
On my nominated collection day, I popped to the bakery in the afternoon to collect the Cronuts. The bakery had all sorts of wonderful-looking sweet items inside, and there were quite a few customers inside enjoying afternoon tea. On showing my pre-order details the helpful assistant collected my pastries, and boxed them in a handy and attractive carry case. Thankfully, I managed to transport them back to Hove without crushing them, despite the busy commuter train.
On first bite, the sugary doughnut exterior gave way to the layered chewiness of a croissant. I was a little surprised that the Cronut also had a rich, creamy and buttery interior filling with a cherry sauce (I thought the flavour combination referred only to the topping). The taste was slightly reminiscent of black forest gateau with the sour dark cherry, and personally I was not sure I could detect the almond or vanilla. However, this did not detract from the sensation of pure indulgence in eating.
Cronuts are a bit of a delicious novelty, however I would say they probably aren’t worth queuing for hours for. It will be interesting to see if other UK bakeries continue the trend by devising their own versions, or whether they are just a fad to be replaced by some other food craze. Have you tried a Cronut? Let us know what you think, by leaving a comment below.
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