Personality Spotlight: Dominique Ansel

Dominique Ansel
Dominique Ansel Bakery is planning to open a London location in 2016

Once the Cronut was born at New York City’s Dominique Ansel Bakery on May 10, 2013, Cronut fans spanned the world from Berlin to Singapore, making it the most virally talked about dessert item of the year. Time magazine proclaimed the Cronut as one of the 25 best innovations of 2013.

“I never thought it was going to go that big,” recalls Ansel, who won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2014. “The second day we made 100 Cronuts and we sold out in one hour. Now, we make a couple hundred every day and still don’t have enough. We open the door at 8 a.m., and we have 100 people waiting outside the door. It’s been amazing.”

While the Cronut is perhaps Ansel’s most famous item, the DKA remains the most popular seller in New York, actually outselling the Cronut by almost three times. Short for “Dominique’s Kouign Amann,” it is best described as a “caramelized croissant” with a crispy sugary crust and tender flaky layers within.

To this date, Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City is the only place that sells the Cronut, a specific product that is not to be confused with any other croissant-donut hybrid. The Cronut brand and product is trademarked by Dominique Ansel Bakery both in the US and internationally.

Dominique Ansel Bakery is planning to open its first location in London in 2016. Dominique Ansel says that he is excited to be opening in London. Ansel grew up in France where he learned the art of laminated doughs and pastry arts.

In 2015, the acclaimed pastry chef opened a Tokyo location, which features many of the same pastries that are famous as his Soho location in New York City; some with a twist. Available only in Japan, the Paris Tokyo, for example, is a twist on the traditional Paris Brest with matcha ganache and a soft passion fruit curd. Another Tokyo exclusive, the Monaka Cookie features a crispy monaka shell and a moist matcha financier cookie. Expect to see similar innovation with popular flavors in London integrated into future desserts at the London location.

Other Ansel inventions, including his Frozen S’more and Magic Soufflé, have fast become popular treats with international fame. He has expanded his bakery’s menu to feature signature cakes and tarts, made exclusively with premium chocolates and the ripest seasonal fruits, including Pink Grapefruit Honey & Lavender Tart and Hazelnut Caramalia Cake. The New York Post dubbed Ansel the “Willy Wonka of NYC” in 2013, quoting Bon Appétit editor Christine Mulhke who stated: “Dominique is definitely the top pastry chef in New York.”

Mini Madeleines

Madeleines

 

Ingredients Grams
Unsalted Butter 115
Dark Brown Sugar 15
Honey 15
Granulated Sugar 100
Kosher Salt 1
All-Purpose Flour, sifted 120
Baking Powder 4
Whole Eggs 150
Grated Lemon Zest -
Grated Orange Zest -
Nonstick Cooking Spray, as needed -
Confectioners’sugar  (for serving) as needed -

Special tools needed

  • Microplane (for grating zests)

  • Uncut piping bag

  • Nonstick mini madeleine pan

  • Small sieve

Directions

Make batter one day before baking

1. Melt the butter, brown sugar, and honey in a medium pot over low heat. Stir gently with a heatproof spatula to ensure that nothing burns. Keep the mixture warm over very low heat, or reheat if necessary.

2. Combine the granulated sugar, salt, flour, and baking powder in a large bowl and mix well with a whisk. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs one by one, whisking to incorporate each before adding the next.

3. When the eggs are fully incorporated and the batter is smooth, slowly whisk in the butter mixture. Whisk in the lemon and orange zests. The batter will still be runny and similar in consistency to cake batter. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the batter, to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate overnight to rest.

The day of pipe, bake and serve

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C) for conventional or 350 F (175 C) for convection.

2. Using a rubber spatula, place 2 large scoops of batter in a piping bag so that it is one-third full. Push the batter down toward the tip of the bag.

3. Cut an opening about 1.25 cm straight across the tip of the bag.

4. Hold the nonstick cooking spray about 10 cm away from a nonstick mini madeleine pan and spray evenly in all the cavities.

5. Holding the piping bag at a 90-degree angle about 1.25 cm above the pan, pipe the madeleine batter into the cavities so that it fills each about three-quarters of the way to the top.

6. Bake the madeleines for 2 to 2½ minutes on the center rack. When you see the batter puff up in the center, rotate the pan 180 degrees. Bake for 2 to 2½ minutes more, until the sides of the madeleines are golden blond and the center has set.

7. Unmold immediately. Bang the corner or sides of the madeleine pan against your work surface so that the fresh madeleines drop out.

Excerpeted from Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes, photos courtesy of Thomas Schauer