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Dominique Ansel on the Best Ways to Score a Cronut

Dominique Ansel on the Best Ways to Score a Cronut


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The pastry chef shared a couple tips at the New York Wine & Food Festival’s Jets & Chefs Event

Dan Myers

Dominique Ansel handed out Cronut holes all afternoon long.

On Saturday, October 20th, the Jets & Chefs Tailgate Party, hosted by Mario Batali and footbakk great Joe Namath, took over the roof of Pier 92 on the far west side of Manhattan, the same location as the Burger Bash the night before. While Batali presented a demo of making sloppy Joes and meatballs with his sons Benno and Leo, and Namath himself even made a couple (very brief) appearances, the longest line at the event was at pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s booth, where he personally served cronut holes filled with spiced apple butter to a line that sometimes stretched 60 deep.

“It’s still hard for me to tell exactly why the Cronut is so popular,” he told us. “I suppose it’s because it’s new, it’s fun, and it’s original.”

He told us that the line for one of the 350 to 400 Cronuts his team makes daily is still as long as it’s ever been, and that the only way to score one is to camp out. “If you want a Cronut, you just need to be patient,” he added. “I’d also recommend checking the weather first.”


Cronut Chef Reveals Secret Recipes

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

The star pastry chef released a recipe from his cookbook, "Dominique Ansel: Secret Recipes," to make the cronut at home.

Pastry chef Dominique Ansel, the creator of that little food craze called the Cronut, is back with a pretzel lobster tail.

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20cm square cake tin or 20cm round cake ring

  1. Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 175C fan-forced (195C conventional). butter the bottom, sides and edges of a 20cm square or round cake ring. Pour in some cocoa powder and shake it around until the tin or ring is evenly coated, then tap out any excess cocoa powder. Using cocoa powder instead of flour to dust your baking tin means there won't be any spots of white flour on the brownies when you remove them from the tin.
  2. Make the sugar mixture: Combine the butter and 100 grams of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring slowly, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted completely, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Make the egg mixture: Whisk together the eggs and remaining 200 grams sugar until smooth.
  4. Make the batter: Pour the sugar mixture into the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Add the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and flour and whisk to combine. An easy way to sift dry ingredients is to combine them in a bowl and use a whisk to break up any lumps before adding them to a batter. Add the chocolate chips and fold them in with a spatula until evenly incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared tin until it reaches halfway up the sides. If you are making a cake base, pour it into the cake ring set on a baking paper-lined baking sheet. If you are making individual brownies, pour it into a square baking tin. Level the surface with a spatula if needed.
  5. Bake the brownie: Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Because of their dark colour, it's harder to tell when brownies are ready to come out of the oven. Look for the top of the brownies to set, with a few cracks in the surface.
  6. Unmould the brownie: If you baked the brownie in a cake ring, let it cool completely in the ring on the baking sheet, then unmould it by pulling up the cake ring. If you are making individual brownies, let them cool for 15 to 20 minutes until they are warm and set, then cut them into squares and serve. I like to remove the corner square first to make the other squares easier to get out.
  7. While brownies are baking and cooling, make a batch of my go-to soft caramel.
  8. To ice, pour soft caramel over the pan of brownies let cool completely before slicing.

My go-to soft caramel

The best thing about this caramel is its texture – rich, smooth, a little chewy and very satisfying. It instantly adds an ooey-gooey factor that I love in desserts. Use it sparingly, though. You don't want to overwhelm, just add a drizzle of decadence.

Makes: 675 grams, enough to fill two 20cm tarts or one three-layered 20cm cake, with leftover caramel

Time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 320g whipping cream
  • 200g light corn syrup
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 100g white sugar
  • 4g fleur de sel
  1. Make the cream mixture: Whisk together the cream, corn syrup and brown sugar in-a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and cover to-keep warm.
  2. Make the dry caramel: Place another small saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, sprinkle a thin, even layer of the white sugar over the bottom of the pan. As the sugar melts and caramelises, slowly whisk in the rest of the sugar, one handful at a time, making sure each handful of sugar has reached an amber brown colour before adding another handful. Once all the sugar has been added, cook until it has turned golden amber brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat immediately to keep it from-burning. (You can move the saucepan on and off the heat to control the temperature and make sure the sugar doesn't burn.)
  3. Combine the caramel and the cream mixture: While whisking, slowly pour one-third of the warm cream mixture into the caramel and whisk until incorporated. Be careful, as the caramel might bubble and spatter as you add the cream. Whisk in half the remaining cream mixture until incorporated, then whisk in the remainder. (A whisk works well here, but you can use a hand blender instead to give your caramel an even smoother consistency.)
  4. Clip a digital thermometer to the side of the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking continuously, until the caramel reaches 105C, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. Finish the caramel: Whisk in the fleur de sel. Pour the caramel into a large heatproof bowl and let cool completely. Once cool, stir well to re-emulsify any fat that has separated.

The caramel can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Let the caramel sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes and stir with a spatula to soften it before using.

Perfect with a cup of tea. Photo: Evan Sung

Lemon pound cake

Pound cakes are sturdy: they travel well and keep well. If you need a cake to bring to someone's home, this would be my suggestion. I like to eat my pound cake plain – a thick slice goes well with a cup of tea.

Makes: One 20cm round cake or one 21x11cm loaf cake

Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 225g eggs (4 large)
  • 265g granulated sugar
  • 135g creme fraiche, at room temperature
  • 240g plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4g baking powder
  • 2g salt
  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 12g lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 100g fresh lemon juice

20cm round cake tin or 21x11 cm loaf tin

Stand mixer with whisk attachment or hand mixer

  1. Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional). Butter the bottom, sides and edges of a 20cm cake tin or 21x11cm loaf tin. Pour in some flour and shake it around until the tin is evenly coated, then tap out any excess flour. If you're using a loaf tin, you can line the bottom and sides with baking paper instead of buttering and flouring it. (This makes clean-up a little easier.)
  2. Make the egg mixture: In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer), combine the eggs and sugar and whip on high speed until smooth and lightened in colour, 2 to 3 minutes. Put the creme fraiche in a medium bowl, add a large scoop of the egg mixture, and whisk it into the creme fraiche to lighten it. Add the creme fraiche to the bowl with the remaining egg mixture and gently whisk until fully incorporated.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, lemon zest and salt in a separate medium bowl to break up any lumps.
  4. Make the batter: Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture in thirds, folding until combined after each addition.
  5. Combine the butter and fresh lemon juice in a small heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each to prevent burning, until the butter has melted. While whisking, slowly pour the melted butter into the batter and whisk until combined. (If you prefer not to use a microwave, melt the butter in a small pan over low heat. Remove it from the heat as soon as the butter has melted – you don't want the butter to brown.)
  6. If you're using a cake tin, pour the batter into the prepared tin until it reaches halfway up the sides if you're using a loaf tin, fill it to about 1.5cm from the top.
  7. Bake the cake: Bake until the cake is golden brown, 55 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Unmould the cake: Let the cake cool in the tin for 15 minutes. While the cake is still warm, turn it out of the tin, then turn it right side up and let cool completely.

My go-to nappage glaze

"Nappage" sounds fancy but is easy to make. Think of nappage as a protective neutral top coat for your desserts. To me, a tart isn't complete without nappage, especially since it helps prevent the cut surfaces of fresh fruits from browning over time. The nappage itself is only slightly sweet and doesn't carry very much flavour. But it's not to be missed if you're serious about presentation.

Makes: 500g, enough to glaze a 20cm cake, with leftover glaze

Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

* It's important to use pectin NH for this recipe. It's a type of pectin that's thermally reversible, meaning it can be set, melted and set again. Apple pectin will not work. Pectin NH is available in specialist baking suppliers.

  1. Make the simple syrup: Combine about half the sugar and all the water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.
  2. Make the pectin mixture: Whisk together the remaining sugar and the pectin in a small bowl until combined.
  3. Finish the nappage: Sprinkle the pectin mixture over the simple syrup and whisk until the sugar and pectin have dissolved. (Combining the pectin with some of the sugar before sprinkling it over the simple syrup prevents it from clumping.)
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before using or storing.

The nappage can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To use, microwave the nappage until it's hot and pourable, with a consistency similar to warm maple syrup (add a little water to loosen it up if it's too thick), about 30 seconds. If the nappage has separated, blend it using a hand blender for a few seconds to combine, then tap the container on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles that may have formed during blending.

Use your favourite jam. Photo: Evan Sung

Linzer cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 185g plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • 85g dark brown sugar
  • 50g corn flour
  • 4g ground cinnamon
  • 4g ground ginger
  • 1g salt
  • 3g Tahitian vanilla bean (about 1/2), split lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • 130g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • 50g egg (1 large)
  1. Make the dough: Combine the flour, icing sugar, corn flour, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, salt and vanilla seeds in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your hands until the butter is broken down into pieces the size of peas and the ingredients are well combined. (Alternatively, use a stand mixer or hand mixer to combine the ingredients.) Add the egg and mix with a spatula until the dough is smooth and the egg is fully incorporated. Don't overmix.
  2. Chill the dough: Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gently shape it into a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight, until cold but still pliable. It should have the texture of clay. Flattening the dough into a disc will help it chill faster. You'll want to make sure the dough is cold before rolling it out. Working with dough that's too warm will cause the tart shell to shrink as it bakes.
  3. Preheat the oven: Place a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 175C fan-forced (195C conventional).
  4. Roll out the dough: Flour your work surface and rolling pin. Unwrap the dough and place it on your work surface. Roll it out into a rectangle about 6mm thick. If you find that your dough is sticking to the rolling pin or work surface, add some more flour. Then roll it out between two sheets of baking paper. Baking paper also makes it easier to lift the rolled-out dough onto the baking sheet later on.
  5. Shape the dough: Use your favourite cookie cutter to cut shapes from the dough. With a smaller cookie cutter, cut a smaller shape from the centre of half the cookies.
  6. Arrange all the cookies on a baking paper–lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 175C fan-forced (195C conventional) oven for 10 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan.
  7. Turn the cookies without the centre hole bottom-side up and dollop a teaspoon of your favourite jam (or see recipe below) onto each. Dust the cookies with the centre hole with icing sugar and place on top of the jam. Push down slightly to make a sandwich.
  8. Once assembled, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

Berry jam

Think of jam as a way to make fruit taste instantly riper: this process intensifi­es flavour and preserves it. That's why they are such great additions to cakes and tarts, both in and out of season. I often fi­ll raspberry tarts with raspberry jam to amplify them, so pockets of jam burst out when you take a bite. And of course, extra jam never goes to waste – spread it over toast or swirl it into vanilla ice-cream.

Makes: 600g

Time: About 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

* If you prefer your jam to be seedless – if you're making a blackberry jam, for example – strain it through a fine-mesh sieve before letting it cool.

  1. Make the pectin mixture: Combine the sugar and pectin in a medium bowl and stir until well mixed.
  2. Make the peach mixture: Place the berries in a large bowl. Sprinkle the pectin mixture evenly over the berries and stir until incorporated. Make sure to sprinkle the pectin mixture evenly, or it will clump.
  3. Cook the jam: Transfer the peach mixture to a medium saucepan, cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed if the mixture threatens to boil over, until the peaches have broken down and the mixture is thick and jammy, 30-45 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Use or store the jam: If you'll be using the jam immediately or within a few days, let it cool completely.

The jam is best enjoyed the same day it's made, but once cooled, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

This is an edited extract from Everyone Can Bake by Dominique Ansel, photography by Evan Sung. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99. Buy now


Share All sharing options for: 10 Insightful Quotes from Dominique Ansel and Gail Simmons' Cookbook Talk

Dominique Ansel and Gail Simmons at the 92nd Street Y.

Last night at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Top Chef judge Gail Simmons sat down with pastry wizard Dominique Ansel to chat about his highly anticipated cookbook, Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes, which hit shelves this past Tuesday. The duo discussed everything from Ansel's unlikely source of inspiration to the importance of innovation in the kitchen, and of course, the Cronut, Ansel's famed creation that Simmons notes "took the world by storm."

Below, the best quotes from the night:

1.) Ansel, on the importance of innovation in his kitchen: "To me it was always frustrating, because I had my ideas and I wanted to share it and I wanted to make things better. I want a staff that will grow with me, and that will give them best of themselves to make the whole kitchen better. Encouraging them to participate in making new things does that."

2.) Ansel, on the differences between working in a bakery versus a restaurant: "When you work in a bakery you have a schedule, you know what you are going to make for the day and the week. When you work in a restaurant. it's all about the flow, and service. Everything is delicate, everything is complicated. A pastry chef in a bakery can't necessarily do what a pastry chef in a restaurant does."

3.) Ansel, on the challenges of adapting his recipes for the home cook: "I actually made all the recipes at home, and trust me, the first few times they were not a success. New York kitchens are very very tiny. There's no counter space. the oven doesn't always work, the fridge is too full."

4.) Simmons, on her NYC conspiracy theory: "I used to believe. that New York was designed as a conspiracy between architects and restaurateurs to force you to eat out all the time because no one has a normal kitchen."

5.) Simmons, on Ansel's ability to reinvent desserts: "It seems like your goal is to often take a dessert that everyone knows but that no one questions and to question it a little more."

6.) Ansel, on the name of the book : "In many many kitchens, chefs keep their recipes [too secret] and hold it for themselves. I think that this era is gone, this world is [now] so open. Kids can go online and find a recipe in a few seconds. this a world in which you have to share what you've learned and keep moving on to grow."

7.) Simmons, on the Cronut: "I can't think of a single pastry ever in existence that has had this much impact on popular culture."

8.) Ansel, on the unexpected success of the Cronut: "At the time [when the Cronut was first released] I only had two people to open the shop with me, and two people in the kitchen. So I had to do a motivational speech every morning to remind them that things would be okay even though there were huge lines outside."

9.) Ansel, on whether or not his father has had a Cronut: "No, he didn't want to wait in line."

10.) Ansel, on fingernail art, his unlikely source of inspiration: "I look at it and I see a lot of techniques and a lot of things I could eventually, someday I could use in the kitchen. It's detailed, and small, and pretty, and beautiful."


Simple recipes and techniques

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Price for all 5 lessons: $49.95 (a limited offer for $60.00 of value)

Pies, Pies, Pies

Starting with the perfect pie crust, these lessons teach you how to then transform that into a gorgeous apple pie or a decadent pecan pie. Get tried and true tips to kick off the holiday season – because we can all use a little more celebration this year. As a bonus, get learn how to make a simple French-style savory pie and inspiration for a fruit pie design.

Croissants - Simplified

Everyone who knows Chef Dominique is aware of his obsession with the croissant. But making it the professional way, with a levain starter from scratch, can be intimidating. In this lesson, you can learn a modify recipe for simple at-home alternative. What family wouldn’t enjoy a warm buttery croissant, hot of the oven, for the ultimate breakfast? And learn about pain au chocolat, ham and cheese croissant, and almond croissant as well!

French Classics

Fast and easy French classics to whip up and wow your dinner guests. Chef Dominique Ansel shares some of his favorite desserts that have that je ne sais quoi. Learn how to perfect a beautiful crème brûlée. Overcome your fear that your chocolate soufflé will collapse. And finish off with go to showstopping crèpe suzette that you flambée in front of your guests.

The Versatile Brioche

Don’t underestimate the brioche – a buttery eggy dough that is French staple. Its light and fluffy crumb makes it ideal as a base for a variety of treats: from cinnamon rolls to donuts to bread pudding. Once you master this soft bread, we promise it’ll be the recipe staple you go back to again and again, from baking simple dinner rolls to dessert center pieces.

Gluten-Free

By popular request – Chef Dominique’s go-to gluten free recipes. Here, the philosophy is to not use any flour substitutes, but instead to use the classic French recipes that have always been flourless. Come away with a great foundation of gluten-free items, from a sinfully chocolate-y cookie to a moist flourless cake or meringues to finish off a pavlova.

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Strawberry & Cream Croissant French Toast For Your Weekend Brunch

Those with a creative eye know firsthand that inspiration is all around us. Whether you're energized by the earth tones of nature, a color-filled walk through a local farmer's market, or even by a quick scroll through Instagram, you never know what might spark a new creative project.

In the spirit of inspiring your next masterpiece, we're excited to partner with Bounty to fuel the next generation of artists and designers forward by launching a national design competition. We're calling on graphic designers to apply for a chance to see their work featured on a new Brit + Co and Bounty paper towel collection, set to launch in 2022.

Aside from the incredible exposure of having your illustrations on paper towels that'll be in stores across America next year, you'll also receive $5,000 for your art a scholarship for Selfmade, our 10-week entrepreneurship accelerator to take your design career to the next level (valued at $2,000) and a stand alone feature on Brit + Co spotlighting your artistry as a creator.

The Creatively You Design Competition launches Friday, May 21, 2021 and will be accepting submissions through Monday, June 7, 2021.

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Who Should Apply: Women-identifying graphic designers and illustrators. (Due to medium limitations, we're not currently accepting design submissions from photographers or painters.)

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How To Enter: Apply here, where you'll be asked to submit 2x original design files you own the rights to for consideration. Acceptable file formats include: .PNG, .JPG, .GIF, .SVG, .PSD, and .TIFF. Max file size 5GB. We'll also ask about your design inspiration and your personal info so we can keep in touch.

Artist Selection Process: Panelists from Brit + Co and P&G Bounty's creative teams will judge the submissions and select 50 finalists on June 11, 2021 who will receive a Selfmade scholarship for our summer 2021 session. Then, up to 8 artists will be selected from the finalists and notified on June 18, 2021. The chosen designers will be announced publicly in 2022 ahead of the product launch.

For any outstanding contest Qs, please see our main competition page. Good luck & happy creating!


Dominique Ansel

Dominique Ansel’s meteoric rise began at the legendary Paris bakery Fauchon. Born in 1977, in Beauvais close to the French capital, at the age of 16, he began working at a local restaurant in order to help support his family. There was a free culinary school in his hometown, so he enrolled in their apprenticeship programme, first as a savoury cook and then as a pastry cook. It was the precision and scientific nature of pastry that appealed to Dominique immediately, and from then on, he knew what he was meant to do.

At age 19, Dominique went on to complete his military service in French Guiana in South America as part of a community programme teaching locals how to cook. Upon returning to France, he used all of his savings to buy a beat-up car and drove to Paris, dropping off his resume at any bakery he could find. He later landed at the legendary French pastry shop, Fauchon, as one of 30 seasonal holiday workers. He was told that only one employee would remain at the end of the season, and when the time came, he was the one they chose.

He spent seven years with Fauchon and gradually took charge of their international expansion, helping set up shops in locations from Russia to Kuwait. Moving to America, he took up the challenge of working as executive pastry chef at Daniel, Daniel Boulud’s restaurant for six years. He was part of the team earned Daniel its first 4-star review from The New York Times, 3 Michelin stars, and the James Beard’s “Outstanding Restaurant of the Year Award” in 2010.

Driven by the desire to make his own mark on the city, he opened Dominique Ansel Bakery in November 2011. The patisserie was an instant success, awarded “Best New Bakery of 2012” by Time Out New York. In November 2011, with a team of just four employees, Dominique opened Dominique Ansel Bakery on a quiet Soho street in New York. Serving both sweet and savoury items with pastries taking pride of place, the bakery quickly became a neighborhood destination.

The Cronut - a fried, glazed and cream-filled croissant croissant-doughnut pastry hybrid innovation Ansel launched in 2013 shook up the pastry world and projected him to international acclaim. The much feted pastry was named one of TIME Magazine’s “25 Best inventions of 2013” and has featured in publications and on TV around the globe. The Cronut flavour changes each month at every Dominique Ansel Bakery location and is never repeated.

Dominique published his first cookbook: “Dominique Ansel: the secret recipes” in 2014. In April 2015, Dominique launched his second NYC shop, Dominique Ansel Kitchen, in the West Village. Turning the tables on a traditional bakery, more than 70% of the menu is either made or finished to order, reflecting Dominique’s belief that “time is an ingredient.” Soon after, in July 2015, Dominique launched U.P. (short for “unlimited possibilities), the after-hours tasting table hidden within the Kitchen shop in NYC. The U.P. table seats just 12 and is situated in the center of the shop’s pastry kitchens, where guests enjoy an all-dessert menu centered around a theme that changes bi-annually.

In September 2016, Dominique opened Dominique Ansel Bakery London, marking his first shop in Europe. Located just between Belgravia and Victoria, the Bakery’s menu includes a number of Dominique’s signatures, along with a large portion dedicated to creations made only for London like the Welsh Rarebit Croissant, Banoffee Paella, and Eton Mess Lunchbox. Most recently, the bakery began serving its first-ever Afternoon Tea service. 2017 brought the opening of Dominique’s first-ever restaurant, 189 by Dominique Ansel, and his first West Coast location of Dominique Ansel Bakery, both opening in The Grove in Los Angeles in November 2017. Outside of the kitchen, Dominique is a dedicated supporter of various charitable organizations, including the fight to end hunger with Food Bank for New York City and City Harvest.


Dominique Ansel: The Leading Light of Pastry

Alex Halberstadt investigates the magical allure of Cronuts&trade and their now-famous inventor.

Alex Halberstadt investigates the magical allure of Cronuts™ and their now-famous inventor.

The next time you read about Dominique Ansel, the pastry chef of the moment, don&apost envy him. During the several days we spent together, I began to think of him as a kind of confectionary Van Gogh𠅊 pioneering artist molested by a capricious destiny. Over the course of our brief acquaintance, Ansel taught me about the quickening power of the Internet, perseverance and the passive-aggressive behavior of the first couple of France.

I first scoped out the Cronut™ frenzy in front of Ansel&aposs eponymous Soho, New York, bakery on an early morning in October. At 6:45 it was still murky, but the line had wound its way along the chain-link fence of the Vesuvio Playground and around the corner, onto Thompson Street. Among the youngish, drowsy Cronut™ hopefuls, the savvy had brought friends, and lounged in folding chairs or on discreetly placed cardboard others stood, drawn up in the chill, their downturned faces lit by the bluish glare of smart­-phones. The reason for the commotion was, of course, Ansel&aposs croissant-doughnut hybrid—laminated, glazed, heightened to beehive-hairdo proportions, fried in grapeseed oil and injected with a filling of the month, like Tahitian vanilla cream and caramelized apple.

Ansel chose pastry making because he&aposs always enjoyed the scientific rigor of the craft, and emulsifying custards and laminating paper-thin doughs afforded him opportunities to calculate and measure. He&aposs worked at Fauchon, the Fabergé of sweets on the Place de la Madeleine in Paris, and for six years was the executive pastry chef at the restaurant Daniel. Ansel—who is 36 but looks 28, with milk-chocolate eyes and a forehead of professorial elevation—sleeps barely five hours a night and is happiest tracing precise vectors with a bag of ginger-infused crème anglaise. He is soft-spoken and mild and organically averse to notoriety. Which is why there exists considerable irony in Ansel becoming the custodian of the world&aposs most viral dessert, a situation that has forced him to hire Johann, a security guard shaped like a Coke machine, to discourage line-cutting, peddling and scalping outside the shop. The Cronut™ has impelled him to submit to thousands of personal questions, and to be photographed surreptitiously on the premises of Manhattan dry cleaners, and to be told by glucose-addled strangers, on an almost hourly basis, that he has changed their life. You have to feel for the guy. It&aposs as though Henrik Ibsen had written Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Cronut™ cult, like Presbyterianism, has spread rapidly across the land. For Ansel, who grew up poor in France, counting coins on the floor of his apartment, the culmination of his unbidden fame was a recent visit from Valérie Trierweiler, the soignພ girlfriend of France&aposs president François Hollande, who swept into the bakery with a detail of bodyguards and consular workers. She wanted to meet the chef she&aposd been hearing so much about in Paris. She handed Ansel her phone. "It&aposs the President," she said. On the other end, Hollande told the dumbstruck Ansel how proud France was of his accomplishments. Trierweiler also expressed pride because "the Cronut™ is French." Ansel began to say that his invention was as much American as French, but she interrupted. "It&aposs French because you&aposre French," she said, bringing their confab to a close.

At this juncture, I&aposd like to address a possibly distracting typographical issue about Ansel&aposs best-known creation. He introduced the Cronut™ on May 10, 2013, and nine days later, on the advice of his attorney, filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The USPTO has since received 12 applications𠅏rom parties other than Ansel𠅊ttempting to trademark the indelible name, and his attorney has been busy mailing cease-and-desist letters to supermarket chains, industrial bakers and other entities that have attempted to bask, extralegally, in the croissant-doughnut bonanza. In any case, the spelling of Cronut™ is no longer a lexical whim but a matter of international law, enforced in more than 30 countries under the Madrid Protocol by the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva.

Little about Ansel&aposs biography foretold his present eminence. He grew up an unlovely hour north of Paris, in Beauvais with its hives of public housing and teenage gangs, it&aposs almost certainly the single most blighted city in France. Three siblings, his parents, grandmother and a cousin shared two rooms with him in the local projects. Ansel let on that his mother wasn&apost the thriftiest with the family budget, and by month&aposs end, he would sometimes dine on stale bread soaked in milk and heated in the oven. At his first job—the 16-year-old Ansel washed dishes and swept floors at a family restaurant𠅊 sous-chef heated a metal spatula over the gas range and used it to brand Ansel&aposs forearm. The only cooking classes he could afford were offered by the city and entailed preparing food in the kitchen of a nursing home. His ticket out of Beauvais was the mandatory draft—he enlisted a year before it was abolished𠅊nd he spent a year at the Republic&aposs least popular military outpost, in the humid rainforest of French Guiana. He said his quick way with the regional dialect and a job in the kitchen were all that averted the death threats that greeted him at the army base nearly every enlisted man was a local of African descent, and some weren&apost too keen on their colonial masters. "But when you work with people&aposs food," Ansel added, "they generally don&apost mess with you."

Back home, he traded his savings for an elderly Renault coupe and drove to Paris, where he knew no one. He worked his way up from a neighborhood bakery to a holiday-help stint at Fauchon only one of the 32 seasonal workers would be offered a permanent job, and Ansel won it. He went on to hold nearly every position at the Parisian institution, eventually opening new shops abroad when the company decided to expand. In Moscow, he single-handedly trained a group of novice bakers to make some of the world&aposs most filigreed pastry—speaking Russian. His interpreter disappeared on the second day, so Ansel bought a dictionary. One morning, he noticed several young cooks in his kitchen wearing particularly vivid makeup they said they had applied it the previous night, before heading to their other jobs as strippers.

In 2006, Ansel arrived in New York City with nothing but two suitcases, to take over the top pastry job at Daniel. The situation in the restaurant&aposs kitchen turned out to be rather unlike the choreographed service in the dining room. "When Daniel [Boulud] got in my face, I yelled back at him. A few times we really got into it, and I remember chasing him through the kitchen and the cooks around us scattering. But we always smiled and shook hands the next morning."

All along, Ansel planned to open his own, considerably less French operation. Instead of Fauchon, with its coiffed, suited salespeople, he envisioned a casual shop with a lunch trade, good coffee and "nobody with a French accent to give you attitude." He opened his doors in Soho in 2011. In addition to traditional staples like macarons, cannelés de Bordeaux and his DKA (a shrink-ray version of the Breton pastry kouign amann), Ansel began to think up increasingly strange and original inventions, many inspired by American flavors like peanut butter and sweet potato. The most theatrical was the Frozen S&aposmore: a vanilla-flavored core of elastic frozen custard—inspired by Turkish dondurma—in a chocolate feuilletine wafer under a layer of marshmallow, stabbed with an applewood-smoked willow branch and torched to order.

Though he may be the most inventive pastry chef going, Ansel isn&apost forthcoming about what drives him to invent he spoke to me about creativity the way NBA players speak to play-by-play announcers about "stepping up." But he was surely on to something when he remarked that at least one of his pastries was inspired by dreams. Consider his disconcertingly mimetic Apple Marshmallow. A whipped vanilla marshmallow with the texture of Champagne foam, a blood-colored milk chocolate shell and an unexpected center of salted caramel, it contains more than a sprinkling of dream logic.

On the morning I visited the bakery, I arrived a few minutes before the first batch of customers would be let in, and Ansel was conferring coolly with his counter staff, some of whom had the sunken-cheeked look of people anticipating severe trauma. Ansel opened the doors and greeted the waiting before they were ushered into another, shorter line along the counter by a young woman with an air-traffic-controller manner. Soon, they discovered the small glass room in the back where two chefs were injecting Cronuts™ with the business end of a pastry bag a volley of flash photography ensued. Ansel shot me a smile and a shrug before he was borne away for photos and testimonials, and I sat at a table on the terrace with my own personal Cronut™, cut it in half, and took a bite. It was pretty good.

Alex Halberstadt has written for the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine. He&aposs working on a family memoir called Young Heroes of the Soviet Union.


This Kind of Specialty Takes a Bit Of Time

As appealing as flying to New York is just to pick up one of those cronuts, I went the practical route and bought his cookbook, The Secret Recipes. I went straight to the Dominique Ansel Cronut Recipe and figured I could whip up one at home. And boy I’m glad I did.

Now I don’t want to discourage anyone, but this homemade cronut recipe is a three day recipe. If you start it on Friday, you could be eating cronuts with your Sunday paper and coffee, if you plan it right. Now this recipe he gave in the book, isn’t the cronut that is in his shop. Do you blame him? I wouldn’t give that recipe up either. But he was nice enough to modify it for the home cook. So this recipe is Dominique Ansel’s recipe for the Make at Home Cronut™.


Meet The Chef Dominique Ansel

Dominique Ansel rose to fame in New York City, where he served as the Executive Pastry Chef for Restaurant Daniel under celebrity chef Daniel Boulud. During his six year tenure at Daniel, the restaurant won its first 3-star Michelin rating, a 4-star New York Times review, and James Beard’s Outstanding Restaurant of the Year Award in 2010. In 2013, Chef Ansel received his own James Beard Award nomination as a finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef at his eponymous bakery.

It’s a long way from home for the chef, who grew up near the north of Paris as the youngest of four children. It was his father, Dominique Ansel (Senior), who first sparked his interest in cooking. At 16 years old, Dominique (Junior) began his formal culinary training, taking a break for compulsory military training and later returning to joining the ranks of the legendary French pastry institution, Fauchon. At Fauchon, Dominique spent 7 years traveling the world to open shops in places ranging from Egypt to Russia to Kuwait.