Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Homemade cronuts

Have you had a cronut before? This mashup of croissants and donuts is the brainchild of pastry chef Dominique Ansel. Now you can make them at home!

Happy 2016!  Sorry that I missed posting on Sunday. I've been keeping busy over the holidays and wasn't able to get something up in time. I hope this post makes up for it!

Being a foodie, I heard about the cronut craze pretty early on. I've heard stories about people lining up for hours to buy a cronut or those who try to sell them on the black market. The pastry sounded really intriguing - it is a mashup of a croissant and a donut, where the pastry is a flaky resemblance of the French icon and fried and filled like a donut.

Sadly, I have not made it to New York City to try a cronut. So I did the next best thing instead. I bought the cookbook.

Chef Ansel has been praised for his innovative recipes and techniques, so I figured that it would be fun to try his recipes. I flipped through the cookbook and was immediately drawn to this recipe. His cookbook is broken into sections based on their difficulty. Not surprisingly, the cronut was listed in the "difficult" or "advanced" category.

Be forewarned that these cronuts will take 3 days to make. Not all of that will be active time since most of the time is waiting for dough to chill in the refrigerator. Don't be afraid. You make most of the components ahead of time and then assemble them the day that you want to serve them.

I found that the individual components were easy to make. The dough was a bit too salty for my tastes, so unless you are going to add a glaze on top, I'd highly recommend cutting back on the salt (my suggestions are in the recipe below). I also had a difficult time piping the ganache into the pastries. I used a small round pastry tip and would recommend using a medium sized open star tip.

My family absolutely adored these. They were crunchy and flaky with a smooth and creamy white chocolate filling. Was it time-consuming? Yes. But was it worth it? Yes. Would I make it again? Yes, absolutely.

So unless you have the time and budget to go straight to Chef Ansel's store to try one of his cronuts, here is his official at-home cronut recipe. Enjoy!

Homemade cronuts
  • 3 and 3/4 cups bread flour (can substitute with all-purpose), plus more as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons salt (Note: I found that this made the cronuts way too salty and recommend cutting down to just 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 and 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 large egg white
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
Butter block
  • 18 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Whole chocolate ganache filling
  • 1 teaspoon (2.3 grams) powdered (unflavored) gelatin
  • 1 and 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate, finely chopped
Note: This is a 3-day recipe. Please plan accordingly.

Two days before serving
Make the ganache: Bloom the gelatin by sprinkling the gelatin powder over 1 Tablespoon of water. Allow it to sit 20 minutes before using.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, mix the heavy cream and vanilla bean seeds until it comes to a boil. Turn off the stove and remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the bloomed gelatin into the cream until it has dissolved.

Put the white chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Then pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and allow it to sit untouched for 30 seconds. Whisk the white chocolate mixture until smooth. Then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the butter block:  Draw a 7-inch square on a piece of parchment paper. Flip the paper over. Using a rolling pin, roll the softened butter into a 7-inch square using your pencil marks as a guideline. The butter should be about 1/4" thick. Wrap the butter and refrigerate it until ready to use.

Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the bread flour, salt, sugar, yeast, water, egg whites, butter, and cream . Mix until everything just comes together, about 3 minutes. Dough should be a bit rough. Generously grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot and allow it to double, about 2-3 hours. Once the dough has doubled, transfer the dough to a clean working surface and punch down the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rough 10-inch square. If needed, add a little bit of flour to prevent the dough from sticking, but you'll want to add as little flour as possible. Cover the rolled out dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

One day before serving
Laminate the dough: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it back out to a 10-inch square (it will have shrunken a bit).  Place the butter block in the center of the dough, but turn it on its side so it looks like a diamond. Fold the corners of the dough up towards the center to cover the butter block. Seal the edges. Roll the dough out to a 20-inch square. If needed, add a little bit of flour to prevent the dough from sticking, but you'll want to add as little flour as possible. Fold the dough in half horizontally, then in half vertically.  You should end up with a 10-inch square again. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. After an hour, roll out the dough to a 20-inch square, fold horizontally, then vertically and refrigerate again for another hour. Repeat this process one more time and allow the dough to chill overnight.

Day of serving
Cut the dough: Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to a 15-inch square. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. After the dough has chilled, use a 3.5" diameter round cutter (or the top of a glass/mug) to cut out 12 circles of dough. Use a smaller round cutter (about 1" in diameter) to cut out the middles of the donuts. Place these donuts on a sheet of parchment paper and line them up about 3 inches apart. Allow the donuts to tripled in size, about 2 hours.

Fry the dough: In a large pot (I used a Dutch oven), heat about 2 inches of grapeseed or vegetable oil until it reaches 350 degrees F. Make sure your temperature is correct or else the cronuts will not cook evenly or correctly.  Once your oil reaches the correct temperature, place 3-4 pastries in the hot oil. Fry about 90 seconds per side or until they are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the oil and allow them to drain on a paper-towel-lined pan or plate. Repeat with the remaining pastries.

Assemble the cronuts: Transfer the ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a medium sized open star tip. (I used a round tip and had a difficult time piping my ganache.) Poke 4 holes in the flat sides of the cronuts and fill with the ganache by squeezing the piping bag. The pastry will get heavier as you fill them up with ganache. Repeat with remaining cronuts.

If desired, you can add a glaze to the top of the pastries. I chose not to do this since the pastry cream was already plenty sweet.

Yield: About 12 cronuts

Source: Barely adapted from Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes



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