Even Questlove of The Roots is breaking his diet for a taste.
The bandleader for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, not content to wait in the hours-long lineup for the now-infamous Cronut, has lured the French chef Dominique Ansel to the Fallon set last week with 200 of his world-famous pastries.
The Cronut is a cross between a flaky croissant and a deep-fried doughnut. Ansel – "the Willy Wonka of the pastry world" – invented the Cronut back in May at his small Manhattan bakery after two months of trying more than 10 recipes (apparentlyit's not so easy to deep-fry laminated dough – it takes three days to complete the process).
Fanatics have since been queuing up to get one of his $5 Tahitian-vanilla-rose, lemon-maple or blackberry cream-injected crossbreeds (limit two per person). Considering Cronut scalpers are selling Ansel's viral dessert on Craigslist for upward of $50, pastry chefs around the world have been racing to develop their own, not letting his trademark dissuade them from baking up their own inventive names, such as "Doissant," "Crognet" and "Zonut." Here's some of the new Cronut-y confections popping up at Canadian bakeries.
In late May, Vancouver's Swiss Bakery started selling what it calls the "Frissant," a combination of a fritter and croissant. Inspired by the Cronut, Annette Siu says she and her father collaborated on their family bakery's adaptation. "He worked on the dough, I worked on the cream … it took perseverance," she says. On average, they sell 200 of their vanilla bean and hazelnut praline cream pastries per day (350 on weekends). "Customers thank me for saving them the trip to New York," says Siu. $4. 143 East 3rd Ave., Vancouver, swissbakery.ca.
Clafouti, a small French patisserie and café in Toronto, is at the epicentre centre of the Crookie craze. In June, owner Olivier Jansen-Reynaud stuffed a croissant with melted Double Stuf Oreos, topping it with half an Oreo. It has since become an Internet sensation, with Perez Hilton issuing a "food boner alert" for this "new bad boy in town." $2.75. 915 Queen St. W., Toronto.
Le Dolci, Toronto's new "foodie studio," started making three varieties of cronut in early July: maple glaze, chocolate ganache-dipped cinnamon and salted caramel. Owner Lisa Sanguedolce drew inspiration from a research trip to New York where the insanely long line outside Ansel's bakery thwarted her from scoring a Cronut. "This is the craziest trend ever," she recalls thinking, "I'm going to go back and bake one myself." Wary of trademark infringement, Sanguedolce recently crowd-sourced on Instagram to come up with her version's name. "One customer suggested 'Ass Enhancers,'" she giggles, "but we decided to go with the Do-Cro." $3 (small), $5 (large), available Thurs-Sun. 1006 Dundas St. W., Toronto, ledolci.com.
Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens has been selling its "Croissant-Donut" since opening in November, 2011, predating the Cronut craze by a long shot. Senior category director Gabriella Muoio says that based on customer interest in the croissant, they wanted to try something different, and the Croissant-Donut was born. It may not get points for name pizzazz, but the self-explanatory sweet is affordable and accessible. Essentially a glazed, deep-fried croissant, the Croissant-Donut is the patisserie's most popular. $1.29. 60 Carlton St., Toronto, loblaws.ca.
Customers near and far have been lining up at Boko Bakery in Ottawa since it started featuring the Croughnut (note the patriotic spelling) on Canada Day. Until recently, the small neighbourhood operation – where they "wake and bake every morning" – had been giving away samples of its triple chocolate and lemon zest custard hybrids. After tinkering with the recipe a half-dozen times, manager Jun Sakiyama says the star attraction has now been added to the regular lineup (under the infringement-proof name "Croissant-Doughnut"). $4.75. 280 Elgin St., Ottawa, facebook.com/BokoBakery.
So, how do we explain the fast rise of Cronut-mania?
According to food writer and culinary historian Michael Krondl, it's nothing new to see bakers trying to put themselves on the map with something that sets them apart from the competition – what's changed is the speed at which these trends develop. "Dessert trends have always come and gone but they've come and gone in decades," says the Toronto-raised, New York-based author of Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert. Krondl explains that it took tiramisu 20 years to take off, a decade for the upscale cupcake to catch on, and two to three years for the high-end macaron to become popular, yet something new like the Cronut now gets picked up at the speed of Twitter. "Someone in New York or Toronto or Tokyo can come up with an idea and 10 minutes later everybody around the world knows it." Krondl notes that because of the way information is being transmitted, "a catchy name is maybe more important now than the flavour or look of the thing."