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Welcome to Kitchensurfing Hacks, where we take a closer look at the food media zeitgeist and get hacking. Up first: Dominique Ansel’s Cronut™.

The Cronut™ is a bona fide sensation, the now-signature product of Dominique Ansel’s excellent Soho, New York bakery. Introduced on May 10, 2013, the Frankenstein pastry — equal parts doughnut, croissant, and magic — has quickly become a thing of legend. Meanwhile, the lines for the $5/pop juggernauts have become a thing of pure insanity.

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In chef Ansel’s own words, this is the Cronut™:

Taking 2 months and more than 10 recipes, Chef Dominique Ansel’s creation is not to be mistaken as simply croissant dough that has been fried. Made with a laminated dough which has been likened to a croissant (but uses a proprietary recipe), the Cronut™ is first proofed and then fried in grapeseed oil at a specific temperature. Once cooked, each Cronut™ is flavored in three ways: 1. rolled in sugar; 2. filled with cream; and 3. topped with glaze. Cronuts™ are made fresh daily, and completely done in house. The entire process takes up to 3 days.

Indeed. But, then, pastry is a thing of immense precision. So, if he can make them, so can we. Or, more accurately, so can one of our chefs.

So we called Kitchensurfing Ace Jessica Yang, who trained as a pastry chef at the ESCF Ferrandi in Paris and has worked in kitchens around the world, such as at Per Se in New York.

Here, drumroll, is her recipe for bootleg cronuts (little ‘c’, no ™).

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BOOTLEG CRONUTS (makes 8)
By Jessica Yang

THE DOUGH

INGREDIENTS

510 g flour
1 tsp salt
100 g sugar
150 g milk
1 packet active yeast or 20 g fresh yeast
3 eggs
50 g butter
300 g butter for layering (tourage)
PAM non-stick spray

This recipe takes about 8.5-9 hours from start to finish, with 2.5 hours of active prep. Steps 1-6 can be completed the previous evening, allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator overnight. Be sure to complete the recipe within 24 hours of beginning, or the yeast will no longer be active.

1. 30 minutes before dough preparation, take 50 g butter and 3 eggs out of the refrigerator allowing each to reach room temperature. If using fresh yeast, mix with room temperature milk beforehand to activate yeast.

2. Combine the dry ingredients —flour, salt, sugar, active yeast (if using)— in the bowl of a stand mixer.

3. IF USING ACTIVE YEAST, heat milk until warm and add to dry mixture. Add eggs and butter. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, or until everything is incorporated. Mix on higher speed for another 8 minutes. IF USING FRESH YEAST, add milk-yeast mixture, eggs, and butter to dry mixture. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, or until everything is incorporated. Mix on higher speed for another 8 minutes.

4. Remove the dough and tuck under edges to form a ball. Coat a bowl with PAM and place the dough in it with seams down. Use a knife to cut a cross into top surface (this will help the dough relax). Cover tightly with clear plastic wrap, making sure it is in contact with the dough.

5. Place dough in a warm area and allow it to double in size. This should take 30-60 minutes. Once dough has “poofed,” transfer to refrigerator and let it rest for at least 2 hours (or overnight).

6. Meanwhile, take 300g of cold butter, and cut sticks in half lengthwise. Place half of the newly cut sticks on a sheet of parchment paper to form a rectangle.

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7. Place the remaining sticks on a second layer on top and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to flatten and even out rectangle until it is about 4 x 6 inches. Place in refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours.

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8. Flour a work surface and remove dough from the refrigerator. Roll out dough so that a cross is formed with equal “arms” on all four sides (pictured below), making sure it is big enough to envelope and cover the rectangle of butter.

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9. Place butter in the center of the cross and cover with all four flaps so that butter is not visible. The opposite flaps should not overlap when folded over, but seal the butter inside by meeting at the edges.

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10. 1st Turn. Flour the work surface and the dough so that it does not stick to the table or the rolling pin. Press down on the dough, this enables it to expand before you begin to roll it out. Turn the dough so that a shorter end faces you.

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11. Roll to expand the length of the dough, making sure that the dough doesn’t stick to the table. Add flour if needed.

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12. When you have a rectangle about 21 x 9 inches, fold the top third of the rectangle down and fold the bottom third up to cover it. Turn the dough 90 degrees so that the opening resembles a book.

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13. 2nd Turn. Try to do this turn right away, but if the dough is too warm, wrap in film and place in the refrigerator until it cools. Repeat rolling, just like the first turn, then turn 90 degrees and gently press two fingers into the lower right corner to mark the number of turns. (Marking the dough allows you to track your progress, and ensure that the orientation of the dough is correct when you remove it from the refrigerator.) Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

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14. 3rd Turn. The dough will be hard, so gently pound the dough to warm the butter. If it is too cold the butter will separate and not spread as it should. Repeat the previous steps, and turn again, marking the corner with three fingerprints. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

15. 4th Turn. Make the final turn, repeating the steps from turns 1-3. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

(In the meantime, you’ll have time to make the pastry cream. Dominique Ansel Bakery only makes one flavor of Cronut every month, so we decided to go where he hasn’t yet: Milk Chocolate.

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CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM

INGREDIENTS

500 g milk
3 egg yolks
1 egg
100 g sugar
33 g custard powder
5 g all-purpose flour
1.5 sheets gelatine
175 g milk chocolate
400 g heavy whipping cream

image1. Bring milk to a boil. Meanwhile whisk eggs with sugar until mixture becomes pale. Add custard powder, whisk. Add flour and whisk.

2. Once milk boils pour into egg mixture, whisking constantly so as not to cook the eggs. Once milk is incorporated transfer combined liquid back into the pot.

3. Turn up heat and whisk constantly until mixture becomes very thick. Cook an additional minute whisking constantly to prevent the cream from burning. Turn off heat and add gelatine after soaking in cold water.

4. Add chocolate to hot mixture and whisk until homogenous.

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5. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with film, and cool in the fridge.  

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6. Once cool add whipped cream (whisk heavy whipping cream in a large bowl until it has the correct consistency) and fold in gently until homogenous, transfer the icing to a piping bag with a small tip.

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FROM DOUGH TO CRONUT

INGREDIENTS

220 g room temperature water
canola oil for frying
400 g sugar
100 g cinnamon

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1. Rolling out the Dough. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough to approximately the size of a sheet pan, 1/2 inch thick. Make sure the dough stays cold, without sticking to the surface. If it starts to stick, place in the refrigerator and roll again when cool. Transfer to a sheet pan with parchment paper, film and chill before use.

2. Punching out cronuts. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper, sprayed with PAM. Remove dough from fridge and take two ring molds, approximately the size of a doughnut and a donut hole. Only start punching if the dough is very cold. Otherwise, your cronuts won’t fry straight.

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3. Transfer half of the punched cronuts to the sheet pan, leaving room for cronuts to “poof.” 

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4. Brush tops with water and stick the remaining halves on top so that they stick. Place cronut holes on the same sheet tray, leaving enough space for them to poof without sticking to each other. Leave in a warm area until they have poofed, about 15-30 min.

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5. Place in the fridge for 1 hour or in the freezer for 15 before frying.

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6. Frying cronuts. Heat canola oil in a pot, about 3 inches high. Test oil with a pinch of flour: if flour foams it is ready for deep frying. Turn heat to low and place cronuts in oil, 2-3 at a time, in order to avoid overcrowding the pot. Turn and flip cronuts often so that they brown evenly.

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7. Once golden brown throughout, test one to see if it is cooked all the way through. Remove and place on paper towels. Now is a good time to prepare the Chocolate Glaze (step 9).

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8. Once it is no longer shiny transfer to a container with sugar and cinnamon and toss.

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(Meanwhile) CHOCOLATE GLAZE

INGREDIENTS
250 g icing sugar
20 g cocoa powder
45 g milk

1. Glazing. Add icing sugar to a small pot over medium heat. Add milk and melt sugar. Once sugar has melted add cocoa powder. Mix until smooth before removing from heat.

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9. Dip cronuts into chocolate glaze while it is still warm. 

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10. Once cronuts have cooled slightly (warm, but not hot), poke several holes and fill with chocolate pastry cream.

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11. Serve, enjoy, Instagram, have another.

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12. Just like the Cronut™ king Dominique Ansel did

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About Jessica Yang
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Jessica decided to pursue her passion for pastry. She moved to Paris to attend ESCF Ferrandi to study French pastry and bread. While in Paris she worked at traditional French restaurants such as Guy Savoy; and at more innovative restaurants, like Saturne and Toyo. Most recently, she worked as a pastry chef at Per Se in New York. 


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