I recently asked my co-worker Stu if he knew what a cronut was. After a moment of thoughtful contemplation he replied, “Isn’t it when you get crunked and eat a donut?”…apparently the cronut has not made it to Richmond, Virginia yet.
The adorably named cronut is a donut that is made from croissant dough, and is the brainchild of the renowned French baker Dominique Ansel. They are the sort of thing you would expect to see at a state fair along side other hedonistic concessions such as the deep fried Twinkie and cheesecake on a stick. But when cronuts are fried to a golden perfection by a famous pastry chef in New York City, people go a little cockoo – foodies are getting in line at 5am to wait for hours just to buy the limit of two, and some are selling their newly acquired cronuts on craigslist for $35 a pop. Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging these folks (I fall into the off-kilter foodie category as well). Because I don't plan on going to New York City any time soon, I knew the only way I would be able to get my hands on one of these in-vogue pastries was to make them myself.
At first I took the lazy route; I tried to make my cronuts from Pillsbury crescent dough. I would NOT recommend this, unless you want your cronuts to taste like deep fried biscuits. I knew that if I was going to make cronuts I had to do it right. I made the croissant dough from scratch and the results were amazing!!! The cronuts were ultra crispy on the outside and had those delicate, little layers we all know and love in a croissant. It was the perfect canvas for all types of sugary toppings – I settled on cinnamon-sugar, whipped cream with strawberry-ginger preserves, and maple glaze with candied bacon.
So all you fanatical foodies out there, there is no need to travel all the way to New York to get your cronut fix.
(Makes 8 cronuts)
3/4 cups milk, warmed (about 80 degrees)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
Vegetable oil for frying (enough for about 2 inches in your pot)
In a large bowl, stir together the warmed milk and yeast. Then whisk in the sugar, eggs, salt, and vanilla until well mixed. Gradually add 3 and 1/4 cups of flour until a dough is formed. Turn your dough over onto a floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic.
Cover the kneaded dough with plastic wrap; chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes
Meanwhile, mix the butter and remaining 1/4 cup until blended and smooth.
After the dough has chilled, roll into a rectangle that is about 13 by 18 inches and 1/4-inch thick. Spread the butter evenly over the dough.
Fold the dough into thirds. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and put it back into the fridge for 30 minutes.
Take the dough out of the fridge and put it back on your work surface, with the open sides to the left and right. Roll it out into another rectangle (same size as the first), fold into thirds again and refridgerate for 15 minutes. Repeat until you have folded the dough a total of 4 times. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Once your dough is completely chilled, roll your dough out to about a 1-inch thickness, and then cut it into rings.
In a heavy pot heat a couple inches of oil to about 350F (I would use a thermometer to monitor the temperature). Fry the cronuts in batches, without crowding the pot, flipping as necessary until deep golden (don't forget to fry up the cronut holes as well). Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
Now it's time to get creative with the glazes and toppings. Glaze with your favorite recipe or simply sprinkle with powered sugar. As I mentioned, above I adorned my cronuts three ways: cinnamon-sugar, whipped cream with strawberry-ginger preserves, and maple glaze with candied bacon.