J’s amazing “ghetto Cronut” hack


Long-time readers will know that my sister-in-law is a pastry goddess. Not only does she blog (although these days less frequently) about her masterpieces, she also teaches always-sold-out pastry classes at Shermay’s Cooking School. Last week, I was telling her about the crazy Cronut craze started by Dominique Ansel. And since there was no way either of us were going to get to taste one of the original Cronuts anytime soon, I begged her to try making her own version, i.e. hacking the recipe.

She did, as expected, an insanely amazing job. This past weekend, S, my two year old T and I were treated to freshly made “ghetto Cronuts” as J called them. One was made with vanilla cream and a yuzu icing, while the other was made with a milk chocolate cream and salted caramel. Her GCs (let’s use that for short and so we don’t run into any trademark violations, shall we?) were pure decadence. More than a couple would probably kill you. But what a way to go. We honestly have no idea if J’s version is even close to Dominique’s, but if it’s anything close to it, it’s no wonder people wait hours in line for the original.

I’ve asked J if we can post her recipe. Here it is, with a short intro from her:

The recipe: I had croissant dough knocking around in the freezer. When I tried fashioning facsimile Cronuts from that, it was an unmitigated butter leak disaster – an utter waste of time, deep frying oil and perfectly good croissant dough. Upon more studious reading up of Dominique Ansel’s technique, I realized he never actually says he uses croissant dough, despite the etymology. On his website, it says that the Cronut “is not to be mistaken as simply croissant dough that has been fried”, and that it is made “with a laminated dough similar to a croissant (but not exactly)”.

All of which led me to imagine a rough-puff route would fair better. I’d previously tried a fantastic Danish pastry/Viennabrød recipe from Beatrice Ojakangas’ The Great Scandinavian Baking Book. She provides both a classical laminated method, as well as a quick method. It’s the quick method that I had in mind. She has also contributed a slightly different version of this recipe to Dorie Greenspan’s Baking with Julia. The recipe below is loosely based on the latter. So besides deep-frying it for wannabe Cronuts, it’s great for all sorts of breakfast/teatime treats calling for Danish pastry. There are also many convenient holding points so there’s never any stretch of work that gets too protracted/involved.

PS: Once fried, these things have a short shelf life. Prolong lifespan by filling, flavouring and topping as close to serving time as feasible/possible. And that said, they really taste best when fried only just as long as necessary before they need to cool so as to be filled. So the crux of what I’m trying to say is: everything can be prepped ahead of time until step 10. After which, for optimal results, you’ll need to work backwards based on serving time. Once filled, flavoured and topped, they taste great for up to say 8 hours at cool room temperature stored simply under a cake dome (and when consumed sooner, rather than later, it goes without saying). As the hours wear on, the exterior crispness suffers whilst the centres soften. Still tasty, but not as tasty as they could have been if consumed close to making/assembly. Last but not least, they should not see the insides of a fridge for they become ponderous.

PPS: I chose flavours based on what I had lying around (ie. anything you fancy is possible).
Yuzu + Vanilla Bean: Yuzu glaze, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean crème patissière, vanilla sugar, candied lemon peel
Salted Butter Caramel + Milk Chocolate: Caramel topping with salted d’Isigny Sainte Mère butter and crème fraîche, Amedei milk chocolate ganache, vanilla sugar, Maldon sea salt.

Final note: Dominique Ansel is actually a friend. So, while we use the term Cronut throughout this post, I do want to acknowledge that it is a trademarked product name, much like Kleenex or Frisbee. And lastly, this post is meant to celebrate Dominique’s brilliance. Because to be able to come up with something as rich and crazy as the Cronut is, well, pretty damned special.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!