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What are cronuts and how do I make them at home?

Reprinted from The Daily Meal

What could be better than a hybrid pastry of donut and croissant?

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.

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.

The cronut has become so popular that people can’t resist trying to replicate it, and news outlets and food and drink websites can't stop themselves from breathlessly covering new cronut developments every five minutes. ChicagoMag.com reports that a local Windy City bakery is serving a knockoff, dubbed the "dossant." While on the West Coast, a San Diego, Calif., bakery is dishing up an imitation of the crazy pastry, appropriately titled "cray-nut." The cronut is even going international, with "frissants" popping up in Vancouver, and Down Under, reports the The Sydney Morning Herald, with "zonuts." One Las Vegas bakery, succumbing to the hype, is simply calling their version "One of Those." Oh, and, there are the people who think they’re the ones who created it to begin with, like one drama-loving soap opera-actress-turned-cook in Texas.

As you may have guessed, The Daily Meal tried replicating it, too. Although Ansel and the rest of the bakery’s team are keeping mum on the coveted recipe, we got the inside scoop from a professional pastry chef who used to work for Ansel — before he created the cronut — on how to make croissant dough at home. Her keys to cronut success include, "Keeping the dough chilled, otherwise you’ll have a buttery mess on your hands." Also, "When initially mixing the dough, resist the urge to overmix. Just mix until the dough is a consistent texture." Although the process seems laborious, she says,"This dough is easier to make at home than most [people] expect."

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.

Ingredients

Like the original cronut, we based our recipe on croissant dough, which consists of layers of alternating dough and butter. This creates the flaky, airy texture of a croissant — or cronut — in this case.

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