So it’s a tiny bit late for this, but here’s a roundup of some of the pastries, as well as the Cronut of the Month, at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Manhattan. I went for breakfast on a gruelingly hot summer morning at 9 AM.
It’s actually my second time coming to the city to wait in line just to eat these coveted pastries. The first time I was here was November 2015, to try their Coffee Toffee cronut. This month, the flavor of the month is Apricot Toasted Almond. I also tried out a variety of other things, including: Summer Blossom Cake, Raspberry Key Lime Tart, Blackberry Hazelnut Pavlova, & Penny the Pig Religieuse.
DAB July Cronut: Apricot Toasted Almond
The last time I came, I had to wait shortly over an hour in a line that stretched far outside the store. This time, I was surprised to find just a small wait inside the store. There really isn’t an exact rubric to gauge DAB’s cronuts, given how much they vary month-to-month, so I just went with my gut.
First bite — great, as always. Dominique Ansel does what knockoffs and imitators cannot. Somehow the pastry is thick and chewy while also being airy and lighter than it looks. The crust of the cronut is glazed and then powdered with sugar, and is notably thicker and chewier than the moist inner layers. (Side note: the word ‘moist’ should only be acceptable when used to describe pastries). I could probably eat a couple cronuts, no frills. They’re that good.
Second bite — filling. While I am not particularly fond of apricot (my grandparents gave me one too many dried apricots to eat as a child), the filling was… not too bad. It tasted exactly how you would expect an apricot to taste like — and so similar to the aforementioned dried apricots that I wondered if all apricot-flavored products tasted exactly the same. It had a consistency that was slightly less molecular than jam — almost like a thick sauce — and very sweet. It was tart enough that the sweetness wasn’t cloying, but for me the apricot filling was a little too overpowering. To balance that out, however, were pockets of creme — I could be wrong, but I’m going to assume that it was almond flavored. The creme was very light and mild enough to help neutralize some of the super-sweetness of the apricot. The cronut was frosted with what I’m assuming is some kind of apricot topping, as well as two strips of dried apricot(?). Honestly wasn’t sure about that part. The jam kind of funked up my taste buds for a while.
One last thing to note, though, is that this pastry is extremely sticky. Sure, that sounds like a minor inconvenience, you think. But the consistency of the apricot jam is very, very, liquid. Cutting it in half or applying pressure to the pastry will squeeze it out like apricot toothpaste out of an apricot toothpaste tube. Bad analogy. You get my point, though. Eating it will leave a gentle orange colored goop to drip on to your hands and your (god forbid) white t-shirt. That being said, though, pairing this cronut with milk or black coffee really helps balance out the sweet flavors. Overall, not my top pick of the cronuts — I prefer November 2015’s Coffee Toffee by a wide margin, in fact — but still pretty good. And with only a tiny inconvenience of a line, it’s definitely something to try. Unfortunately, it’ll be too late for you to try to eat it, but definitely try August’s cronut — Black Cherry Valrhona Milk Chocolate — which I’m looking forward to.
TL;DR: DAB’s Cronuts are generally worth the hype for a mere $5. July’s cronuts weren’t to my tastes, but go try one regardless.
While slightly less famous, these are no less tasty. Here’s some briefer rundowns on the other pastries I snagged for breakfast:
Summer Blossom Cake ($6.50):
The tag described it as “Chocolate dacquoise with mango, milk chocolate blossom and bachelor’s buttons blossoms”. A dacquoise is a layered cake made from meringue and buttercream. To me, this tasted like a chocolate mousse cake with a layer of mango-ish filler at the base. As you can see, the heat literally melted the chocolate decoration five minutes from being taken out of the refrigerated case. I’m not convinced chocolate and mango are meant to be, but as a whole the pastry is light, with a hint of fruit. Not what I was expecting, but altogether not unpleasant.
Raspberry Key Lime Tart ($6.75):
The tag reads “raspberry vanilla jam with lime champagne curd topped with champagne mousse, jam-filled raspberries and key lime supremes”. By far my favorite of the bunch, but that’s because I’m a sucker for any kind of tarts. There’s more jam than I prefer in this one, but the overall tartness of the lime helps even things out. My favorite piece on this pastry was the champagne mousse — it’s glazed over with something that gives it the consistency of pudding almost, and it’s a mildly sweet flavor that really contrasts with the textures of the tart and fruit. 10/10 would eat again.
Blackberry Hazelnut Pavlova ($6.75):
I think this one was my favorite one to look at before I ate it. The tag says “ripe fresh blackberries, hazelnut mousse, and vanilla meringues with tarragon cream”. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the hugest fan of this dessert. I had no idea what tarragon was (further research in Wikipedia says it’s some kind of perrenial sunflower relative plant), and I didn’t think it was exceedingly tasty in any aspect. The blackberries were tart, the meringue and the mousse were soft and creamy, but for me it lacked “wow” factor.
Penny the Pig Religieuse ($6.75):
I bought this one for a friend because I thought it was cute. I only had a bite or so, but anyways. Tag reads, “double-decker cream puff fill[ed] with strawberry jam and rose honey marscapone cream”. Religieuse is a French pastry made up of two choux pastries filled with custard creme, then topped with the same flavor as the creme. So it makes sense to make the small one the head and the big one the body. These cream puffs are deceptively heavy for what they look like — the choux is thicker than expected, and the custard is relatively dense. It’s filled with jam and cream, and honestly, it’s not as cloyingly sweet as I thought it was going to be. Not bad, but it felt like a huge hassle to eat.
Not a bad day’s breakfast. I could have used a glass of milk or two or a cortada, because these were all pretty much very sweet. Some were better than others, but at the end of the day, all of them are worth trying at least once. If you have the time (to wake up at 8 in the morning) and the money (to buy pricey French pastries), definitely head over to Dominique Ansel to try an authentic cronut, the famed Kouign Amann, or a cookie shot.