Thursday, January 2, 2014

Salted Caramel Cronuts

I think you have to be living in a hole if you have not heard of the cronut. For the few of you that don't know what it is; The Cronut™ is the unique pastry creation by Chef Dominique Ansel that many have described to be a croissant-doughnut hybrid. After its launch on May 10, 2013, Cronut™ fans spanned the world from Berlin to Singapore, making it the most virally talked about dessert item in history. You make your croissant dough, and then proceed by making them into doughnuts. The result is a flaky, buttery, mouth-watering, sweet cronut. Every day people line up around Chef Dominique Ansel's bakery block in New York to get his tasty treats. He limits each customer to only 2 cronuts a piece, and only makes 300 per day. I personally think he is crazy. He sells them for $5.00 a piece and he could make a killing if he increased production. 

Well I don't live in New York. Even if I did, you would not catch me waiting in a line for hours for a treat. I am just not that person. You will however, find me in my kitchen for hours re-creating this delectable treat. They are not hard to make. You just need time. Because there is a chill time in between each fold. I suggest making the dough at least 1 day before you plan to cook them. 

So here you have it. A recipe for America's 2 most popular sweet treats. A cronut combined with salted caramel. Maybe not on your new years diet plan, but you can save it for a splurge day. 

I would not ever recommend just making these for 2 people. So this recipe is not a "for two" recipe. It is a share with your friends recipe. I handed them out to my building staff and to friends and family. 

Salted Caramel Cronuts

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
lots of canola oil for frying - enough to fill your pot 2" deep
3/4 cup sugar (for coating)

Salted Caramel:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Sea salt flakes

With 1 1/2 cups butter, make a butter rectangle. Wrap the softened butter loosely in plastic wrap and press into the bottom of an 8”x4” loaf pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Heat your milk either on the stove top or in a microwave to 105 degrees. Add the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy. Stir in the sugar,vanilla and salt.

Add 3 cups of the flour and combine with a large spoon until all of the flour is incorporated into a sticky dough. Then add the last 1 cup of flour and switch to your hands to knead the rest of the flour into the dough. Cover directly with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough rectangle. After the dough has chilled, roll the dough on a well-floured surface into a rectangle, roughly the size of a 9”x12” baking dish. Remove the butter rectangle from the refrigerator, unwrap from the plastic and place it in the middle of the dough, perpendicular to the length.

Tuck the butter into bed. Fold the right and left dough flaps over the butter rectangle like a letter. 

Transfer to a well-floured surface and roll dough back out to a 9”x12” rectangle (roughly).
Repeat the fold and roll steps 4 times. Wrap the dough in plastic and let chill in the refrigerator overnight.

After the dough has chilled for at least 8 hours, remove it from the refrigerator, roll to 1/2” thickness and cut a 3” outer ring and a 1” inner ring.
Heat the oil. Fill a large stockpot with canola oil, 2-3” deep. Place over medium heat and monitor the temperature until it reaches 375° F.

As soon as the oil reaches 375° F, use a flat spatula to carefully transfer the doughnuts into the oil. You may be able to fit 3-4 doughnuts in the pot at a time, but be careful that they are not overcrowded. Fry for about 45 seconds on each side.

Remove from oil directly into a bowl of sugar. Roll doughnut in sugar to coat the outside and let cool on wire rack.

Make the salted caramel. Combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, sugar, and heavy cream. Bring to a boil and stir for about 5-10 minutes until caramel reaches the “soft ball stage” at around 230 degrees.

Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla.

Dip the tops of your cronut's into the hot caramel and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. 

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