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Dorothy Dean presents: Culinary hybrid the cronut tastes like dessert heaven

UPDATED: Tue., June 2, 2020

By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

We’re just days away from the sweetest celebration honoring our favorite ring-shaped confection: the doughnut.

National Doughnut Day, which falls on the first Friday of June, was created in 1938 by the Salvation Army to raise funds and honor the Donut Lassies, the women who provided meals, supplies and – you guessed it – doughnuts to soldiers on the front lines during World War I.

The doughnut quickly became the simple symbol of all the Salvation Army was doing to ease the atrocities of war. And soon after, the doughnut craze took the nation by storm.

Over the decades, doughnuts have evolved in many ways, from their shape and fillings to ingredients and toppings.

But it is Dominique Ansel, the creative French pastry chef and owner of Ansel Bakery in New York, who really rocked the doughnut world. In 2013, he masterminded the cronut. It is croissant dough that is shaped and fried like a doughnut (hence the name cronut). Simple enough, eh?

Well, this culinary hybrid tastes like fried heaven and had people lined up for hours waiting to get their hands on one of the 250 cronuts made daily. The cronut even had scalpers selling the $5 cronuts for $40, and people were buying them!

Yes, they’re that good. A bite into their subtle crust reveals a web of light and flaky layers and tastes of sweet buttery deliciousness.

This simplified version of cronuts will have you on cloud nine without having to wait in line – or in an alley for a stranger to flash open a cronut-lined trench coat.

And, no, we won’t be making homemade croissant dough; there’s no rising or kneading involved (exhale). Just a box of store-bought puff pastry, an egg, cinnamon and sugar. Oh, and oil for frying.

The puff pastry dough is perfect for mimicking the croissant dough used for the original cronuts because it is full of layers of butter that expand when it hits the hot oil. That makes them puff up tall, creating multiple layers and airy pockets throughout the cronut.

This super-simple recipe breaks down to unfolding the puff pastry dough and brushing it with a beaten egg, then sprinkling on the cinnamon sugar mixture.

It is then folded back to its original form along the seams, cut into doughnut shapes and chilled before frying. Alternatively, they can be baked at 400 degrees for 22-26 minutes or until golden and puffed, though it will change the texture and flavor.

The fried cronuts are rolled in the cinnamon sugar mixture and then ready to be enjoyed – OK, devoured.

Like most doughnuts, cronuts can be rolled in sugar, dipped in glaze and/or filled with jams or pastry cream. They’re amazing with coffee or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

And be sure to fry up the scraps, too. Believe me – you will want to savor every last piece!

Puff Pastry Cronuts

Adapted from bijouxandbits.com.

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Flour, for dusting

2 sheets puff pastry dough, thawed

1 egg, beaten

3 cups oil, for frying

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon; set it aside.

Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet; set it aside.

Lightly flour a work surface and unfold one sheet of puff pastry. Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with some of the beaten egg, then lightly sprinkle with some of the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Fold the puff pastry dough back up along the seams into thirds so it is in the same form it started from the box. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry. With the dough folded, use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out three doughnuts out of each sheet for a total of six doughnuts.

When cutting the dough, be sure to just push down and pull straight up. Do not twist the cutter, as this can seal the edges, preventing the layers from poofing. Then use a 1-inch round cutter to cut holes out of each doughnut. Place the doughnut rings and holes on the prepared wire rack and freeze for 15 minutes.

While the dough is freezing, add the oil to a large, deep saucepan and heat to 375 degrees over medium-high heat. Cooking in batches of two, fry the doughnuts 4-6 minutes on one side, then flip and fry another 2-4 minutes. Doughnuts should be golden and puffed, and the dough should be cooked through.

Place the cooked doughnuts on a paper towel-lined plate to drain briefly and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes.

Audrey Alfaro can be reached at spoonandswallow@yahoo.com.

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