People continue to queue around the block to pay $5 a cronut at Ansel's NY bakery. The craze has reached London in the form of Rinkoff Bakery's CroDough (the name cronut is trademarked; let's hope Dom isn't a Secret Slut and reading this), and even Greggs has embraced the hype with a Greggsnut (really).
Keen to try one, I decided to make my own. First of all, I had to overcome my fear of deep-fat frying, because ain't such a thing as a healthy, baked cronut. Then, I had to work out whether Ansel's specially-laminated layers of croissant dough were necessary for the perfect texture. Reading that making croissants from scratch takes three days of buggering about made my mind up for me - shop-bought croissant dough it was. This recipe from the Telegraph reassured me that dough-cheating was more than okay. I also decided that making crème pâtissière was a step too far, and opted instead for delicious, moreish salted caramel. Oh my, was that a good idea.
My verdict? Cronuts are damn tasty. These ones are quite little - and thank goodness, because any larger and they'd be driving you to the cardiac ward themselves. I've read some reports that cronut-copycats can be a bit stodgy and heavy - not so mine. They're crispy, flaky, and fluffy all at once. Colour me cronutted.
Salted Caramel Cronuts (makes 6)
You will need:
- A little plain flour for dusting
- 250g can of ready-to-bake croissant dough (Jus-Rol do one - find it in the butter or cheese aisle)
- Copious amounts of vegetable oil
- 3-4 tbsp caster sugar
- 4 tbsp salted caramel sauce (buy it, or make some of Hazel's)
- 4 tbsp icing sugar, plus a few drops of food colouring if you like!
- Hundreds and thousands
- Dust a clean surface with a smattering of flour. Hardly any, really. A token gesture to the gods of flour.
- Pop open your can of croissant dough and LAUGH. It's so much fun and it goes WHOOSH! Stop laughing and unroll the dough onto the work surface.
- You will see before you a series of perforated lines zig-zagging across your length of dough. Ignore these. Fold the rectangle into thirds, as if folding an A4 piece of paper ready to go into a long, narrow envelope. (People on the internet are calling these 'business letters'. I'm not.)
- Now roll along the length of the rectangle until it's roughly about three times as long as it once was. Fold as before, into thirds, and then roll for a final time - more gently now - until you have a rectangle measuring around 20 x 14cm.
- Using a 6cm circular cookie cutter (or - ta-da - the top of a bog-standard wine glass), cut six circles. With a smaller cutter (or - ta-da - the little tiny lid from a bottle of food colouring), cut out the middles of each circle.
- Transfer the rings to a tray or plate, cover with clingfilm and pop in the freezer for half an hour. This helps them puff up in the hot oil, apparently.
- When the rings have been chilling for about 25 minutes, decant the caster sugar into a bowl. In a large saucepan or proper chip pan with a wire basket, pour enough vegetable oil to deep-fry the doughnuts. Heat it to 190°C/375°F. I used a thermometer to extinguish my burning anxiety re: burning the house down. I recommend you do the same, unless you're an experienced deep-fat fryer.
- Once the oil has reached the right temperature, fry the cronut rings, one or two at a time, for about three minutes each side. They sink at first and then pop up to the surface, so just watch for them turning golden on the underside before flipping them over.
- Remove from the oil, coat in sugar, and leave to cool on some kitchen roll. Repeat until all the cronuts are cooked and sugared.
- Once they're cool, use a chopstick to poke four equidistant holes in the top of each cronut. Using a piping bag and a narrow nozzle, pipe salted caramel into each hole.
- Mix up a little icing sugar as per the packet instructions. You can colour it if you like! Using a teaspoon, pour in a circular motion around the hole of each cronut, allowing the excess to dribble down the sides.
- Sprinkle with hundreds and thousands. This is no time for classiness. We're about to devour deep-fried croissants shaped like doughnuts and oozing with salted caramel, for goodness sake. Pile on those hundreds and thousands. More. A few more. That's it.
Have you tried a cronut yet? Will you be giving them a go at home?