Dominique Ansel Bakery: A Cronut or a Hero?

A dear friend of mine by the name of Ricky once told me, “You should never meet your heroes.”

It made me wonder, should I not pursue the lionized Cronut (Croissant + Donut) I have revered for so long? Was my wild imagination setting me up for disappointment, as its gravitation toward grandeur so often has in life?

I have been cat-fished by desserts a plethora of times and never learn, approaching each viral goodie like a naive child checking under their pillow after losing a tooth, only to find an IOU note from the Tooth Fairy saying she doesn’t have any cash on her and needs to go to the bank. Again. XOXO.

Having no work on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I took to the PATH train to spend a city day with Logan, whom you may remember from my Gong Fu Cha or Salted Cheese Tea posts. We scheduled dessert for breakfast into our plans, but I was wary of our ability to attain our goal, as this was not my first attempt at acquiring the elusive Cronut. Nor my second, nor my third…

I was becoming increasingly disheartened, wondering if perhaps I would end my youth in New York having never tried the world famous dessert that started a movement of donut innovation way back yonder in 2013.

The Cronut aggrandizes itself as the world’s first-ever viral pastry. (I cannot confirm as the internet had not made it to Ohio by 2013.) Allegedly, within a few hours of coming to fruition, photos of the Cronut spread across the social media sphere, and a single blog post about this brand new pastry was linked to over 140,000 times in just the first day. In less than a week, the bakery that birthed this wonder had guests visiting from all around the world lining up for blocks, rain or shine. I myself was never early enough to even stand in line, I was simply told at the register a well practiced line: that the Cronuts had all sold out by 5am.

Dominque Ansel Bakery is led by none other than Dominque Ansel. His Cronut concoction was named one of TIME Magazine’s “25 Best Inventions of 2013,” and the phyllo juggernaut went on to revolutionize the humble American dessert scene with: The Cookie Shot, Frozen S’more, Blossoming Hot Chocolate, Gingerbread Pinecone, and much more.

In a world where donuts are disgraced by establishments like Dunkin’ and Entenmann’s, this shop is willing to push the flour a little further with the delicate elegance of Parisian style.

It was a shock to the senses, this abundance, this overrichness of fanciful things. And yet, Logan and I reined in our desires, committing to just under $50 of French desserts. Let’s dive in…

Walking into Dominique Ansel Bakery, I wanted to buy Cronut fanatic apparel immediately. I was awestruck by the splendor of the display case, observing the artfully crafted sweets I had failed to notice on previous trips to the shop.

Logan and I stood at the counter in broody deliberation, wondering, “Do we pick our desserts based on pretty pigmentation or palatable tastes?” The lavender meringue drew both of our eyes, as did pretty much every other purple item on the racks.

Given my previous rejections at DAB, I was hesitant to ask the licentious question burning on my tongue at the late hour of 11 a.m., “Do you have any Cronuts left?” *Cue pitiful, quivering bottom lip.*

Sacré bleu! They did!

For January 2019, the flavor of the month was Cherry Almond Biscotti, filled with cherry jam and almond biscotti ganache. A germane flavor for a frigid January day. Previous notable flavors include: Blueberry & Earl Grey, Balsamic Fig Olive Oil Shiso, Yellow Peach Black Tea, Bosc Pear and Sage, Lychee Rose Pistachio, Guava Toasted Honey with Lime Sugar. Boujee flavors, you get the idea. But for a more comprehensive list, read this.

Upon first bite, Logan and I were showered in buttery flakes of confetti. Many jelly donuts create a maze of unprosperous, doughy bites with no filling to be found until the last oversaturated bite. With the Cronut, the jam filling is evenly dispersed around the ring, encrusting each bite with an even balance of components.

The gestation period of a Cronut is an impassioned three day process. After being fried in grape seed oil, the scientific marvels are then 1. rolled in sugar; 2. filled with cream or jam; and 3. topped with glaze. It’s no wonder gourmandizers are gobsmacked upon the first blissful bite.

My life B.C. (before the cronut) was an endless treadmill of chasing the unattainable. I’d been long awaiting the donut that would move me to tears, but until this meal, I was losing hope that a donut could provide an emotional entireness previously unknown to my sentience. Perhaps I was over-romanticizing the power of sugar and fried dough. Or perhaps I knew better than to settle for any street-cart donut.

Optimistically, I took another bite out of my decadent masterpiece, and then I proceeded to weep.

Live footage of me transcending.

I was rather nonplussed when it came time to consume the chocolate chip cookie shot, as one does not customarily eat the vessel from which they tipple.

I chose the route of sip-and-bite, as anyone who knows me knows I love soggy foods. Despite the inner chocolate coating, milk was seeping out of the bottom of my cookie shot, achieving the texture of an perfectly hand-dipped, milk-logged cookie. The cookie itself was expertly baked, likely held up to the sun by French cherubs, before being placed before me, a chewy and warm creation fallen from the heavens.

The chocolate chip cookie shot comes with a small cup of vanilla flavored milk that will liquidate your bowels faster than a midwest Sears closing down. And it will be worth it all the way. Each nostalgic sip brought forth a memory of my childhood, back when I had the metabolism to eat an entire box of Famous Amos with milk in one sitting. And by childhood I mean last night.

IF you go to DAB and want a milk and cookie shot outside of designated “after school hours” (3pm-6pm), it’s an extra $2 on top of the $6. Otherwise you have to buy a box of three to go for $18. Irritating, but that’s show biz baby.

I didn’t know pastries until i dinned at DAB. The most aesthetically pleasing item we ordered was the black and blue pavlova with lemon ganache and blueberry meringue. It was $8 of sweet, sugary wonder and perfectly toasted meringue. However, the main ingredients of meringue are sugar and egg whites… making this sacchariferous goodie a less than ideal chaser for the Cronut, an equally as candied treat.

Sugar overload aside, the unique interpretation of a traditional pavlova contained light as air meringue, fresh blueberry compote (yay fruit, hitting all of the food groups), and a flavorful lemon cream. It’s sort of like a healthier macaron, but in a good way.

Logan and I finally arrived at the final course of our four part breakfast, but it proved to be too much for her glucose conscience. She tapped out and left me alone for the final tasting.

I couldn’t not order the famous Mini Madeleines. I mean I could have passed, but I would have had the opposite of buyers remorse, decliner’s remorse, a penny-wise dissatisfaction of sorts, like when you look back at something you wish you would have bought and the fact that you didn’t buy it consumes you day and night and when you cave and realize you NEEDED that navy trench coat and go back to Anthropologie to complete your life, they are all gone and there is no way to go back in time and get that jacket you will forever pine after.

So I bought the Madeleines.

Each petite sponge cake is baked fresh while you nibble on other purchases. I personally watched the baker tasked with my order check up on my madeleines multiple times to make sure they were toasted to perfection, even though they were being served to a nobody like me. It really made me feel like a somebody.

Not overly sweet, crisped with care and powdered sugar-dusted with the artistic inclination of Jack Frost on the first snowfall, I say with confidence that the basket of airy seashells deserves the hype the internet has bestowed unto it.

Thumbs up if you’re enhancing your life with a cronut!

Dominique Ansel Bakery embodies the silver screen stereotypes attributed to New York City. It is foreign, elegant, five star cuisine with every menu item being 24 karat Instagram gold. It’s what naive dreamers think every single bakery in Manhattan is like.

“Overpriced mediocrity” is often used to refer to NYC by both those who live here and visiting tourists. It’s a magical island of fairies and glitter until you pull back the Hollywood curtain and realize Sex and the City likely had roaches in their kitchens and any apartment like the ones on FRIENDS would never be in any of their budgets.

But DAB doesn’t acknowledge the painful reality of city living. It keeps the illusion going. It augments the La La Land mirage that this could be you when your next job pays you triple what you’re making now, allowing you to eat a $50 breakfast every day before puking it all up at the gym with your personal trainer who also works with A-list celebrities and Michelle Obama’s arms.

And for that glorious one hour experience of feeling like a character in a TV show (Gossip Girl, not Seinfeld), I say thank you. It was worth every penny.

The crisp bakery interior featuring an authentic French patron.

*Coffee review unknown, as Cha-Cha Matcha was scheduled as our caffeine fix.

My Rankings

Flavor: 10/10 – Everything I ate had been building up in my mind’s dreamland for years, and yet nothing disappointed. I’ve had lunch here which was not as good, but the desserts certainly strike a masterful balance of delicate eclat and intense zest.

Bang for Buck: 9/10 – I don’t know when I started thinking it’s okay to pay $6 for a Cronut but once I started I never went back. The treats proffered at DAB are indeed high in price, but they’re cheaper than a plane ticket to France.

Aesthetics: 9/10 – The interior is crisp and simple, filled with natural light and usually adequate seating. In the summer you can sit outside and enjoy one of New York’s remaining four trees.

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