Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

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Manila’s Cronuts

posted by in Food Purveyors

cronut-side

Weighing in on the pastry of the moment.

I hear the boom of course, the sound roaring ’round the internet, and its name is cronut. Yes, it’s now a trademarked name but I’ll keep it in lowercase for simplicity’s sake.

Making its debut in New York just last May 10, it’s a creation that’s gone viral. It’s also thrust a large and looming spotlight on its creator, French pastry chef Dominique Ansel and his eponymous bakery, which has registered nary a blip prior to this save for his reportedly divine kouing-aman.

From my research, I glean that Chef Ansel is adamant that a cronut isn’t just croissant dough that’s been dunked in hot oil. Yes, it’s similar to – but not quite – a croissant dough, each cronut is painstakingly crafted from a rolled and folded dough alternated with plenty of butter, what’s known as a laminated dough. This method, along with the supposedly “secret” frying temperature, steams and puffs the pastry resulting in those ephemeral folds of flakiness. They’re allowed to cool, then each cronut is dredged in sugar, filled with cream (Chef Ansel varies the flavor monthly), then glazed.

One New York woman dreamily describes eating a cronut as “…like walking into clouds…” and indeed, the numbers are stunning.

  • Desiring to make a pastry that reflected both American and French sweets, it took Chef Ansel 2 months and more than a dozen recipes before he deemed his cronut perfect.
  • It takes 3 days to make 250 cronuts.
  • Only 2 are allowed sold per person.
  • Minimum waiting time in line is 1.5 hours.
  • Each day’s batch is sold out in 30 minutes.

Not since the cupcake has a sweet had such impact, and it’s beyond impressive how this pastry has careened across continents and inspired a whole slew of copycats. Deeming it unnecessary to try the real thing first, it’s the idea itself that bakers are seizing. And really, what’s not to love about deep-fried dough? This croissant-doughnut hybrid-slash-dessert mash-up is a viral sensation, sort of like Gangnam Style, but the edible version.

I give props to my loyal DCF reader, Rainie, a pastry chef in Los Angeles, who first alerted me to the cronut. “And it looks like Wildflour’s the first one to nail it in Manila,” goes his speedy, follow-up email a day later. Manila’s foremost bakery-café sticks to exacting standards and they’re to be commended for being so attuned to the pulse of what’s trend-worthy. Naturally, nothing beats having the first mover advantage, too.

cronut-cover

Wildflour offers a trio of cronut flavors (P125 each): vanilla, chocolate (above), and strawberry. I try them all over a span of two days. At the Manly Eats event of food company Pinoy Eats World last weekend, I all but pounce on my friend, Ian, when he offhandedly mentions that he’s got a cronut in “…that there brown paper bag” sitting idly on the table. Summoning supreme politeness despite being engulfed in excitement, I ask if I might have a bite. I can only thank all the dessert gods that Ian’s so nice, he all but offered the entire (!) thing to me, and ever so gallantly at that. And so, with much expectation, I bite into what I hope to believe to be bliss.

Um, not quite.

It’s creamy and crispy-flaky, and rains a mess on my shirt front, but it’s not quite transcendent. Ian notices my puzzled look – he’s accustomed to my soft cooing sounds when I’m eating something I like very much. “Yeah, I want to like it too, which is why this is the third cronut I’ve bought, but I’m not digging it just yet,” he muses.

cronut_cross-section

The next morning, my Bin comes home and proudly gifts me with the vanilla and chocolate cronut. He’s attacked the vanilla one on the drive home, thus the “half-naked” photo of it above, which is actually a good representation of how flaky and laborious it is to make. “Wildflour says we shouldn’t heat the cronut, just eat it right away,” my Bin says, peering over my shoulder as I crouch to take a shot.

After the photo op, I take a bite of each cronut, holding one in each hand. Interestingly, Chef Ansel says that the best way to eat a cronut is to cut it in half and peel off those layers, one by one (!), like you would a mille crepe cake. Wildflour’s cronuts taste somewhat like a Krispy Kreme donut, but crispier. This isn’t a negative statement as I adore Krispy Kreme, have even attempted to clone them, plus I love all things deep-fried. Despite the friendly advice not to do so, I heat up a cronut in my toaster oven, and find that I prefer it more because it mimics a freshly-fried donut. But no, nothing name-forgetting yet.

Nutella croughnut~Monique_630
A photo I’m drooling over – Dolcelatte’s Kroughnut, courtesy of my friend and TRAVEL magazine Editor-in-Chief, Monique Buensalido.
cronut-Migs_630
And here’s the Kroughnut family photo brought to me this time by my friend and colleague, Migs Borja-Yambao of Appetite Magazine.

Other cronut clones
Milk tea place, Chatime, introduced their own cronut version just last Tuesday. They call it a Kronut and it’s available in limited quantities but only at their Pioneer store in Mandaluyong. Then my friend Monique posts a photo of Dolcelatte’s croughnut (notice all these different spellings?) on her Instagram feed. She’s not tasted Wildflour’s nor have I tasted Dolcelatte’s but we both agree our respective cronuts were just OH-kay. “I wonder if the one in New York is as insanely nomnom as they say it is?” She muses. “When I’m in New York next month, I’ll let you know!”

And so Manila’s cronut chronicles begin…

30 Responses to “Manila’s Cronuts”

  • Heard that Mesclun Bistro in Serendra has a cronut clone as well. We are on a quest to be documenting all of these in a bit.

    If I ever had a fitness instructor, he might have resigned if he ever reads this :P

    - Ray

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:


    Lynne-Enroute-
    Yes, everyone’s jumping on the train on this one. Just heard that Dunkin Donuts just released their own version yesterday.

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  • These are some gorgeous donuts! I want one right now!

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    Lori Reply:


    Jocelyn,
    No matter what people say about the taste, cronuts really are eye candy.

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  • “Deeming it unnecessary to try the real thing first, it’s the idea itself that bakers are seizing.”

    That’s the problem in a nutshell, I think. I have to believe that the Ansel’s version is waaaay better than what I’ve been tasting because NYC is one of the toughest-to-impress markets in the world, and I just can’t believe people would go this gaga over what basically amounts to a cream-filled Otap.

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  • Great post, Lori! <3

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    Lori Reply:


    Thanks Monique!

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  • The only one I’ve tried so far is Wildflour’s version. I tried the Vanilla and Strawberry and found it very good for what it is. I think I’d like it even more without the pastry cream inside.

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  • Hi Lori,
    Thanks for the props in your latest (and always) excellent post. I actually haven’t had a Cronut or any of its copycats. I guess I have to wait a little longer for them to arrive here (mulling the thought of attempting to make one myself).

    Half-surprised that you and some of your readers/friends were underwhelmed. I compared your first picture in the post to the one I sent you. The NY version looks a little “breadier” and seems to have spent less time in the fryer. A problem in execution perhaps?

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:


    Hi Rainie,
    Glad you commented. The cronut is – and I attribute this to the hype – something I wanted to like, but yes, I was underwhelmed. The problem is that everyone outside of New York hasn’t a clue as to what the original tastes like, so we’re all grappling. It could be the case of a food tasting better in imagination than reality. Since you’re a noted pastry chef, I urge you to make your own version and email me about it! :)

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  • I wasn’t drawn so much to the cronut as I was to your pictures. The second one is particularly beautiful and creative. It almost looks like a painting. Clever distortion of perspective by the angle and tabletop illustration, plus it just screams “chocolate.”

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:


    Thanks very much, JB & Renee! High praise coming from a web designer.

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  • Speculoos Cronuts. Now that’ would be the ultimate food hipster delight of the moment.

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:


    Gustr-
    I agree!

    [Reply]

  • Hi Lori,
    I just want to give you a heads up in case you travel down under again. Here in Australia, Adriano Zumbo has created his own cronut and he named it Zonuts. He has them available in two of his branches (Rozelle and The Star). While it’s become popular, I notice that people haven’t been too crazy as when he came out with his macarons and cakes. I haven’t it tried but I hope one day I’ll get to taste it (for curiosity’s sake).

    Happy Monday!

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:


    Thanks for the heads up, Ibyang! Frankly, I wasn’t too blown away by his pastries when I was in Sydney but his stores are a visual treat and his macarons are incomparable.

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  • I have to agree, the Cronut failed to give me any ‘happy happy joy joy’ feelings when I bit into it. Don’t really get what all the fuss is about.

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  • Hi Lori! I can’t wait to try this! I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz abut this cronut! :)

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  • Park Avenue Desserts has their own version. I tried one but i think it wasn’t cooked properly. Texture was poor and kinda disgusting that I did even bother to finish it.

    [Reply]

  • Hi Lori,

    Intercontinental Hotel Makati and Manila Hotel have started their own versions of the Cronut wave. I was teasing the Food Services Manager of ADB if their pastry kitchen will also come out with their own too.

    [Reply]

    PJ Reply:

    BTW, nice photos! I remembered the food photography you and Mark gave at Fully Booked.

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:


    PJ-
    We’ve only seen the tip of Manila’s cronut wave. And thanks, I’m glad you like my photos.

    [Reply]

  • I find that there’s a technical problem when looking at the method in making cronuts. It’s essentially a butter laden laminated dough that’s deep fried in some type of vegetable oil. Doesn’t the frying process remove most of the butter from the pastry? I’ve had Wildflour’s version and was struggling to find that butter flavor. I think frying it in ghee would probably be the best way to really appreciate this product.

    [Reply]

  • Tasted wildflour’s last time, and it’s just okay. Well because I have nothing to compare it with. When I went to NY, I went to Ansel’s bakery. Unfortunately, they are closed already. But was able to talk to a lady who works there. There really is a long queue everyday. And the store opens around 8am and 9am(depending on the day) and people started lining up as early as 5am. She even thought I was too early for the next day. If you’ll go there, better be there earlier so you can get hold of their 300-400 cronuts a day. :)

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  • in fair, i think the cronuts are actually delicious. not something i would line up for (no way) but i’d be happy to bring home a dozen of them. they’re pretty heavy on the stomach and are a dieter’s nightmare. if there’s a food at the top of the glycemic index food chain or the worst possible white-flour-refined-sugar-deep-fried food ever invented, this would be it. but damn, i finished my cronut in one sitting and would gladly do it again if not for my spilling love handles.

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  • I can’t wait to taste these :-)

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  • After all the hype, isn’t the cronut just a bigger version of the Napoleones with a hole in the center? Flaky dough, custard filing and sugar icing on top…

    [Reply]

  • you should all try to cronut clones at the Bellevue Manila. They did NOT dissappoint

    [Reply]

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