Cronut craze gains pace with new Canadian variants

August 20 2013

Canadian chefs have been paying attention to the proliferation of the Cronut, a popular new dessert item that was concocted in New York and is now spreading across North America.

Devised by French chef Dominique Ansel for sale at his small shop in Manhattan, the tasty doughnut/croissant hybrid was invented in May 2013 and proved a major hit, thereby inspiring bakers everywhere to try their hand at creating their own versions of the snack.

The Globe and Mail recently shone a spotlight on some of the dishes that have been inspired by the Cronut, with Vancouver's Swiss Bakery developing a fritter/croissant combination known as the Frissant - featuring vanilla beans and hazelnut praline cream - and Ottawa's Boko Bakery offering its own Croissant-Doughnut in triple chocolate and lemon zest custard varieties.

Meanwhile, over in Toronto, French patisserie and cafe Clafouti has been melting Oreos and stuffing them into croissants to create a dish called the Crookie, while nearby eatery Le Dolci has been experimenting with a number of Cronut-inspired variants in maple glaze, chocolate ganache-dipped cinnamon and salted caramel flavours.

Moreover, Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens can claim to have pre-empted the Cronut craze with its own Croissant-Donut product, which it has been selling since 2011 and has recently received a fresh increase in popularity.

Certainly, the rise of the Cronut is every food service operator's dream, with Mr Ansel having recently told the Associated Press that he has had to limit the number of purchases per customer and implement a pre-order scheme in order to fulfil demand.

Having experimented with more than ten recipes for the dessert, he eventually hit upon a recipe that offered a great taste and could be produced in quantities of between 200 and 250 each day, even though each Cronut takes three days to prepare in total.

The process of deep-frying laminated dough created challenges for the chef, but it would appear that his hard work has paid off, earning him huge amounts of business and publicity from the world's media.

Mr Ansel says his supply of the snacks typically sell out within an hour, with many customers reserving their Cronuts two weeks in advance.

Food writer and culinary historian Michael Krondl explained to the Globe and Mail that although the spread of popular dessert concepts across the country is a familiar trend, the speed with which culinary ideas proliferate has accelerated rapidly.

He observed that in the past, it took 20 years for tiramasu to gain widespread popularity and two to three years for the high-end macaron to catch on, whereas nowadays great recipes and ideas can immediately be broadcast and propagated online, leading to the rapid development of food crazes such as the Cronut.

"Someone in New York or Toronto or Tokyo can come up with an idea and ten minutes later everybody around the world knows it," Mr Krondl observed, while he also suggested that because of the way this information is transmitted, "a catchy name is maybe more important now than the flavour or look of the thing".