The city that never sleeps is also the city where everyone loves to eat (especially me!) It seems like every few months, there’s a new “I must have that!” food. I’ve had rainbow bagels, Smorgasburg creations, and Levain cookies. Now, finally, my New York City bucket list journey has brought me to one of the city’s most famous desserts, 7 years after it went viral: the Cronut®.
You may be one of a few people to wonder, as my mother famously asked me when I told her my plans for the day, “what the hell is a Cronut?”
Part croissant, part doughnut, the Cronut was born to be on Instagram. Combine the flaky layers you get in a croissant with the deep fried texture of a doughnut, and you’re halfway there. The Cronut is filled with a flavored cream, fried in grapeseed oil at a very specific temperature, and topped with another sugary glaze. The entire process, between sheeting the dough and frying the treat, takes three days to complete. It’s worth noting that because the process takes so long, you’re not guaranteed a Cronut. Many people have braved the lines to find out the treats are sold out.
The Cronut was born in 2013, the child of renowned pastry chef Dominique Ansel. Ansel was based in France when he created the croissant-doughnut hybrid, and he soon brought the treat to New York City.
Spoiler alert: it didn't take long for it to blow up.
On May 9, 2013, a blogger from Grub Street wrote an article about the Cronut. Within just a few days, the famous lines had begun. Ansel trademarked the Cronut name about a week later, and the rest is New York City culinary history.
Today, the lines still remain for the Cronut. However, the coronavirus pandemic has made it a little easier for New Yorkers to get their hands on the famous pastry. The famous lines, now missing the city’s tourists, are essentially gone.
As I’ve discussed a few times on here, I hate waiting in line for food. I've done it a few times before, and it has never been worth it, and I like to avoid disappointment by getting to places as soon as they open (or during downtimes) to try popular foods.
I figured I would take advantage of New York City’s lack of tourists (sidenote: deep down, we miss you guys and can’t wait until you’re back) and went to Dominique Ansel Bakery the minute they opened. I recommend doing what I did and planning your visit ahead of time. There is only one Cronut flavor per month (previous flavors include Rose Vanilla, Peach Bourbon, and Raspberry Coconut), and I knew I wanted October’s flavor, Hazelnut and Cappuccino.
There were only three of us at the bakery, which is a pastry lover’s dream setting. Although I was there for a Cronut, I was tempted to veer from my original plan and get any one of the other treats for sale.
After watching the staff pop my Cronuts ($6 each) in a fancy box, I was on my way back home to...photograph the treats. Like I said, this is a dessert made for Instagram.
It’s recommended that you eat your Cronut within a few hours of purchasing. That wasn’t a big challenge for my roommates and me.
What’s the verdict? Is the Cronut worth waiting in line for? I’d say the Cronut is great...but with a tremendous asterisk. The Cronut is absolutely delicious and incredibly decadent - my biggest mistake was eating it before starting work for the day, because I started sugar crashing pretty hard.
If you can order ahead or get to Dominique Ansel at opening, then it’s 100% worth a visit for one of New York City’s most famous foods. If you’re like me, and you hate waiting in line, you may end up disappointed by the Cronut. I'd go back again to try another flavor of the month or one of the amazing looking desserts at Dominique Ansel, but I'll still be avoiding the lines.
Interested in more bucket list adventures in New York City? Follow along on Instagram at @fiveboroughbucketlist!