The Cronut Has Risen! Trendy Food of Five Minutes Ago Returns

The final product. Marissa Rothkopf / Newsweek

This month, Dominique Ansel, the Nikola Tesla of pastry chefs, published his first cookbook, The Secret Recipes, and contained within is a recipe for the most coveted pastry in the history of mankind: the Cronut. The Cronut is the trademarked name for the joyful union of croissant and doughnut that until now could be had only by standing online for hours outside Ansel's New York City bakery. (Ansel has hit imitators with cease-and-desist orders, and this is surely one of the few pastries to ever inspire scalpers.)

The Cronut, for those who suffered head trauma last year or have been taking the Paleo diet way too seriously, is the pastry that Time called one of the "25 best inventions of 2013." In New York, where most trends last five minutes, the Cronut endured for over a year and now runs the risk of moving into your very own home.

I hate lines and crowds almost as much as I hate caving into fads. I was never going to stand in line for one of these things. But the hype was too great to ignore. I decided to try making Cronuts at home, where I wouldn't have to employ the trademark.

I printed out the online recipe, thanks to Good Morning America, which got an exclusive: a 10-page, single-spaced set of instructions that take over three days to complete. (Yet only 120 minutes of active time, plus an unmentioned 450 minutes of washing dishes.)

The making of a Cronut. Marissa Rothkopf Bates / Newsweek

Most of the ingredient list was reasonable: flour, eggs, yeast, the sort of thing you probably have around your house if you like to bake. However, the 26 tablespoons of butter the recipe called for needed to be 84 percent butterfat. My local Whole Foods is usually a reliable source for obscure and overpriced products, yet even with 12 different butters to choose from, none claimed to be the 84 percent butterfat that Mr. Ansel insisted upon. A common American stick of butter has 80 percent butterfat, while the fancy-pants European "cultured" (which refers to microbes added for a richer, tangier taste) butter comes in at 82 percent.

I settled on 82 percent Plugra, American-made but Euro-style butter that used to be the darling of chefs until, I guess, they wanted that extra soupçon of butterfat. I made adjustments to the ingredients and required equipment throughout the process. I wanted to see if an average home cook could eke out something resembling Ansel's Cronut. Also, I'm lazy and didn't have grapeseed oil, so I fried in canola. I didn't have the exact size of cookie cutter for the doughnuts so I just used the smaller one I had.

I couldn't find the required Bismarck nozzle for filling the cronuts, either. The Bismarck is a cruel-looking icing tip that looks rather like something used to artificially inseminate hamsters, with a long metal tube to inject ganache deep into the soul of the Cronut.

The dough takes days to make thanks to the yeast, which needs to rise and rest and rise and rest. It gets rolled in various directions, gets butter added to it, gets to lie around some more and chill in the fridge. This doughnut is a celebrity and demands to be treated like one.

But lordie that dough was smooth. Like the soft, powdery cheek of your favorite grandma (the one who didn't get Botox). I caressed it lovingly before putting it in the refrigerator to nap. I closed the refrigerator with a slam and whooped, "The dough shall rise again!" Jefferson Davis-style.

Then it was time to make the chocolate-champagne ganache for the filling. Since David Niven had not been over for breakfast, there was no leftover champagne to be found anywhere, so I had no alternative than to pop a bottle of Prosecco at 11 a.m. to procure the quarter cup or so needed for the recipe.

Ganache is usually quite simple to make: Hot cream is poured over chopped chocolate. The cream melts the chocolate, and it's whisked to smoothness and left to cool. Not so with Mr. Fancy Ansel: His was French-style and involved tempering egg yolks, a hot stove and a sieve to remove bits of egg from the lumpy custard-ganache I'd created.

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Cronut baking aftermath. Marissa Rothkopf Bates / Newsweek

Then I washed the nine bowls, six spoons, two forks, four spatulas, the cutting board, rolling pin, sieve, counters, walls and floor and retreated to my bed.

I woke the next morning with the strength to face laminating. Laminating is the term for layering in butter. (It's that butter, when it melts in the heat of the oven and creates steam, that helps create those airy, flaky layers. If you've never made a laminate dough before, such as a croissant or puff pastry, then this step will probably amaze and disgust you all in one go. I recommend you just lie back and think of the Land O' Lakes Indian princess, 'cuz butter is what makes this good).

A seven-inch square of butter—looking like the world's largest pat of butter—is plopped in the middle of the rolled-out dough. The dough is then folded up around the butter to encase it. Then you start the rolling, the folding (to create layers) and then resting. It rests a lot. One does a lot of rolling in this recipe. I suppose pastry-dough rolling isn't going to become the next Pilates, but if it does, I'll have a head start on all of you.

By the third day, my desperate family had stopped asking when they could have a Cronut. They'd gone from eager participants in my experiment to feeling abuse and neglect as I massaged and tended to the dough instead of them.

When it came time to fry (after the dough had risen again), I heated me up a cauldron of canola oil, large enough to protect a castle from siege.

I fried a dozen Cronuts, nearly three dozen doughnut holes and untold numbers of dough scraps—sure they were ugly, but they were fry-able. And you don't spend all that precious time making dough just to throw out a scrap just because it's a little funny looking. Roll that warm little troll in some maple cinnamon sugar, pop it in your gob and…hmmm….what?

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The finished Cronuts. Marissa Rothkopf/Newsweek

After the Cronuts cool they are meant to be stuffed with ganache, rolled in sugar and then glazed. Only four managed to last that long. Waiting three days for a doughnut is a long time, so I cannot spite my family for eating the majority of the doughnuts hot from the oil.

In my exhausted, grease-stained haze, I pondered possible reasons why you would want to make Cronuts in your own kitchen:

1. Your parents praised you too much as a child and you will go to any length to please people.

2. You are on house arrest and have a lot of time left to kill until your ankle bracelet comes off.

3. Your beloved cat is dying and you need something to soothe and distract yourself between visits to the hospital, and you're sick of watching Pawn Stars reruns.

4. You live really far away from Dominique Ansel's bakery and are dying to know what the fuss is all about.

In the end it's just a doughnut, albeit a very, very good doughnut. Making them myself—knowing that I was eating a piece of fried dough made richer and airier with the generous additions of butter and cream (only one tablespoon, but I am pretty sure I got the entire tablespoon)—brought feelings of guilt, not accomplishment. When you buy an "In-Store-Made Cronut" you save yourself a lot of time and energy. Ignorance is deep-fried bliss.

Please note: If, bless your heart, you decide to try making Cronuts at home, the online recipe available from Good Morning America contains some inconsistencies (it asks for regular flour, then says to use bread flour; it asks for one egg white, then says to add egg whites). These are small mistakes, but unnerving. Get the recipe from the book itself to be sure.