Last month was full of sweet treats, as February should be. Most notable of these desserts was my very first Cronut, the over-hyped pastry hybrid of a croissant and donut, trademarked by Dominique Ansel Bakery in NYC. I had just graduated and moved back home before starting my first job in Bellevue when the Cronut made its debut. I heard all the kerfuffle about the lines and the waiting and how amazing it was from afar, and so I put the cronut on my mental bucket list for NY eats if I ever made it back. Surprise, I moved and last month finally made the effort to get one for myself.
The bakery is only a short subway ride from my office and since I don’t normally travel into the city on weekends, I considered it easier to just pick one up during the week. If you visit the Dominique Ansel website as I did, you may be intimidated by the lengthy debriefing you receive on Cronut 101. I had a hard time believing that the lines would be that bad seeing as it was almost two years after the pastry’s creation but I wasn’t about to wait in the freezing winter cold for a chance to try one. Instead, I tested my luck with their online pre-ordering system. Every Monday at 11:00AM the system opens for orders to be placed two weeks in advance (like that isn’t already intimidating.) At about 11:00 AM exactly, I attempted to reach the order page only to have it continually stall and time out and crash every time I refreshed for two hours. I guess the Cronut craze really hadn’t died down! I gave up and ended up checking back later at home and managed to reserve my Cronut for the Tuesday two weeks out, the only day still available. And then it was time to sit back and wait.
As you’ll learn on the website, each month has a different Cronut flavor, something I didn’t know originally. I always thought they came in one flavor…plain…the flavor of sweet dough. However, to gild the lily, the flavor for February was Cherry Blossom Ganache with Sour Cherry Gelee. If you’re interested, the March flavor is Green Tea with Golden Pineapple and matcha sugar, which doesn’t sound nearly as good to me.
The morning of the Cronut pickup, I was surprised to see that there wasn’t a line outside the small bakery, which, like many New York businesses, looked rather dreary from the outside, hiding all the decor and treats past the tented doorway. There were people inside, but no more than Starbucks on a weekday morning at 8:00 AM. Since I had already put so much effort into getting myself to this point, I decided to continually indulge in buying a salted caramel éclair (suggested by a coworker) and a cannelé (aw Paris memories), for breakfast the next morning. I had placed my order for four Cronuts, not just for me of course, but for other coworkers who were equally excited to try this pastry. I received a large bright yellow domed pastry box with a handle, and to prevent any crushing, another smaller box holding my éclair and cannelé. With both boxes further stuffed into their own bright yellow Dominique Ansel bags, I felt like a tad gaudy on the subway trip back to the office, toting my flamboyant parcels, but as proud & self important as if I was coming back from a trip to Henri Bendel.
Now, this pastry needs to come with a warning label “Eat at your own risk” or “May cause severe headaches, jitters & sugar crash”. It is realllyyyy sugary and surprisingly intense as the hybrid of the simple and elegant croissant and the plain, yet versatile, donut. Rather than having the buttery, flaky, chewy characteristics of a croissant combined with the sweetness of a donut that I expected, it was more like a deep fried flaky layer biscuit, which was then filled with flavored cream and jam, rolled in sugar and frosted. I have to admit, I didn’t share mine, and regretted it later. As I inferred with the warning labels, the only repercussions were a headache that lasted all afternoon along with lack of focus and jitters from the sugar. Unless you live off candy bars all day, I don’t think you could say this isn’t a sweet item; I wouldn’t even consider looping it into the breakfast category. I can’t imagine the horrors if a child ate one of these in the morning. As a side note, the next morning my éclair was delicious and light, much less sweet with a mouth watering salted caramel frosting on top. I was disappointed with my cannelé, it was a little too burnt-tasting and not as moist and chewy on the inside as I remember them being. My Cronut eating experience was definitely one of a kind and I am very pleased that I got to check it off my list, but for maybe the first time I surprised even myself by thinking, one was enough.