It wasn’t so long ago when cupcakes ruled the world, closely followed by macarons, cake pops and anything (literally) made from bacon. Food fads are so much fun to watch but I think I’ve just found my favorite…the cronut! If you’ve been living in one of those huts in Bora Bora – you know the kind that sits high up on sticks in the ocean – then you might have missed the cronut hoopla. So here goes.The cronut, a hybrid of a croissant and a donut, was invented by Dominique Ansel, a French baker and pastry chef, just this year. Dominique owns his own bakery in New York and wakes up each morning to his version of every business person’s dream – a line of customers stretching around the block, all wanting to trade cash for his cronuts. The cronut craze is indeed crazy, so crazy that he limits people to only two per purchase. You can buy six if you order them two weeks in advance. (Check out this really cool timeline of his week by Huffington Post.)
When I visited Hawaii earlier in the year, I made a point of visiting Leonard’s Bakery. Some say Leonard’s Portugese malasadas donuts are the best in the world and I had to stand in line for 30 minutes to try them, Ansel’s customers are waiting in line for 3 or more hours!What would you do for one of these yeasty nuggets? Well, you could make them at home like I did. Ever since I saw these flaky, puffy, gold-medal worthy examples of home made cronuts from Salt and Smoke, I knew I had to try them. The dough is the texture of croissant dough, packed with butter and folded over and over again to produce those flaky layers. If you’ve ever made croissants, you know how much labor goes into this. But it’s like a science experiment – if it goes right, then it’s soooo worth it. Of course, if it goes belly-up like mine did the first time, then it’s a kitchen full of flying flour and cuss words. I would have loved to achieved the layers from the Salt and Smoke offering, but I know why that didn’t happen and I’ll adjust for it the next time I make these. Umm, yeah I’ll be making them again because it was like stuffing a raised donut into my mouth while also relishing crispy layers of butter and pumpkin spice sugar. And as if that wasn’t enough sweet goodness, I dipped them all in caramel sauce. Let’s not forget the middle of the cronut. Those little puffy balls rolled in the sugar were more addicting than I imagine crack to be.
Pumpkin Spice Caramel Cronuts
For the dough
3/4 cups milk, warmed
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
Canola oil for frying
For the caramel sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp water
1 tsp light corn syrup
3 tsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
For the sugar
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Warm the milk and add the yeast to it. Gently whisk and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
In a large bowl combine the eggs, sugar, spice and vanilla extract. Add the milk mixture and mix well.
Add 1 cup of the flour into the wet ingredients and mix. Gradually add the other 2 1/4 cups of flour and mix into a ball.
Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Beat the butter until smooth and add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to it, whisking until smooth.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out into a rectangle shape about 12 x 18.
Spread the softened butter all over the dough and then fold the dough into thirds. It will be folding a book.
Cover with plastic wrap and place back in the fridge for 45 minutes.
Bring the dough back out and roll it into another rectangle shape folding again into a three fold pattern. Cover and place back in the fridge.
Do this another two times making a total of four folds to the dough. Place back in the fridge for an hour or leave to rest overnight.
Once it's ready roll it out one more time but making sure to roll it to about 1 1/4 inches. This is important as it's help give some lift to the layers when placed into the hot oil.
Using a donut cutter, cut out the circles and place them on a floured baking tray along with the donut holes.
Place the baking tray back into the fridge, always keeping it cold.
Heat the oil to about 350 degrees F. Once the oil is hot enough place a few cronuts into it. Keep the rest of the cronuts in the fridge at this time.
The cronuts will only take a few minutes to cook on each side. Scoop them out and transfer to a paper towel to dry.
Continue until all of the circles have been cooked.
Roll the cronuts in the sugar and top with the caramel sauce.
For the sauce
Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a pan. Cook over a medium heat until it starts to turn a deep amber.
Whisk in the butter until melted. Add the heavy cream and stir until sooth and shiny. Let cool before topping the cronuts.
Mix the sugar and spices together and dust each cronut until covered.
Fill the pan with about 2 inches worth of canola oil and use a thermometer to maintain steady temperatures.