Manila’s Cronuts

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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…

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