This is not just a Cronut shop!
We spent the afternoon sitting with Dominique Ansel, owner of Dominique Ansel Bakery, eating and chatting about his newest speciality and New York’s newest craze…THE CRONUT! Dominique opened his bakery only a year and a half ago and my has it taken off!! Originally from Paris and straight from the acclaimed restaurant Daniel, Dominique might be one of the hardest working pastry chefs out there. He rarely takes a day off, and since creating the Cronut, has been on interview duty nonstop!! We were thrilled to sit down with him and eat some of his delectable pastries.
The Cronut has caused a new dessert craze not just in NY, but all over the world! People start lining up at 5:45 am (the bakery opens at 8) to get there teeth into a Cronut. Sometimes the line wraps around several blocks and they sell out before the last in line is even near the door! Dominique said he created the Cronut for a staff meeting snack and when the staff gave rave reviews decided to try it out on the menu. The creative name Cronut was a group effort, which is now trademarked. It takes three days to make one Cronut, which might be why they only make a certain number and sell them only in the morning. Dominique said he fries them in grape seed oil and very quickly at a very high temperature so that the dough doesn’t absorb all the fat. The result is a very light, slightly crisp donut/croissant that you can either pull apart layer by layer or just bite right into. Dominique prefers cutting them in half to view its layered glory and then biting right into it. The flavor of the month, Lemon Maple, was filled with lemon filling and covered in maple sugar. The lemon filling, perfectly distributed, was extremely refreshing and had just a hint of vanilla bean. Every bite was better than the next. We started the chefs way of biting right in and then ended by tearing each layer away like a croissant. That’s the fun part, it can be eaten like a donut or a croissant. He said he had no idea that this new creation would be such a phenomenon and even though he is a very popular pastry chef, especially at the moment, he remains extremely gracious and humble. He’s got more ideas in his head, he says, and there isn’t anything he doesn’t like to do. Dominique hopes that everyone tries the Cronut but also comes to enjoy all the other outstanding pastries at his bakery.
As if that wasn’t enough, Dominique also treated us with his Ricotta Cheesecake, made to order Madelines, and a Canellé de Bordeaux. The cheesecake, light as a feather, sat on a almond sponge cake and had a brûlée top. The difference in texture between the hard sugar top, the smooth cheescake, and then sponge cake was extraordinary. It is a wonderful size and a perfect summer dessert. The Canelle de Bordeaux are baked individually for an hour an a half in their very own copper mold. This creates the crusty outer edge with a dough/crepe-like center. He uses a little dark rum and Tahitian vanilla to add a little flavor and spice! This little treat is such a delight. Easily enjoyable at any time of the day! The center of the Canelle looks like a sponge and is soft and delicate. These are quiet addictive. Last but not least are his famous Madelines. Very different from ones you may find at your local grocery store, these little babies are hot and super fresh. In fact, if you don’t eat them within an hour they become hard as rocks because there is hardly any butter in his recipe. Store bought versions can last for months because they are almost all butter. These little treasurses melt in your mouth.
What we love about Dominique is that he genuinely LOVES what he does and you can clearly tell in his pastries. The Cronut may be what is drawing customers to this delightful bakery, but it’s far from the only sweet to salivate over. If you end up not getting one of the coveted cronuts, there are so many other delicious items to choose from. Dominique takes his job seriously and passionately and we are big fans. He works right with his staff everyday, creating a family full of love. There’s a stunning garden in the back, which you can enjoy a sweet break anyday and feel that you’ve stepped away from NYC’s hustle and bustle. Merci beaucoup chef Dominique! C’est magnifique!