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New York foodies in grip of 'Cronut' craze

NEW YORK--Some hungry customers began lining up outside the pastry shop around 3:30 a.m. Others managed to keep their taste buds at bay for a few more hours, arriving at the patisserie around 6 a.m.

They were all united by a desire to sample the food craze that has gripped New York since its debut a month ago. Half-doughnut, half croissant: the “Cronut” has left the Big Apple's gourmets in a frenzy.

By the time the Dominique Ansel Bakery in the heart of trendy Soho opened its doors to the public at 8 a.m., the slavering customers were at breaking point. Within the hour, every single Cronut available has been sold.

The bakery's owner, Dominique Ansel, says the crowd reflected the typical pattern since the May 18 launch of the Cronut, a food sensation powered by social media. On the first day, 50 were sold. The next day 100 flew off the shelves, within 15 to 20 minutes.

Since then the bemused pastry chef has become accustomed to lines of 150 to 200 people winding down the street before the bakery has opened.

Ansel settled upon the idea of the Cronut after deciding he wanted to create a hybrid pastry that would be instantly recognizable as a marriage of French and American food cultures.

His revolutionary confection offers the delicate puff pastry of a traditional croissant shaped into a round doughnut, which is then deep-fried, filled with cream, rolled in maple sugar and coated with a light glaze.

It's soft yet crunchy, light and delicious, say the Cronut's devotees.

Ansel, regarded as one of the most talented pastry chefs in New York, said settling upon the Cronut recipe was a painstaking process. “It took me about two months to perfect the recipe,” Ansel told AFP.

It is so perfect that Jessica Amaral, 30, thought nothing of leaving home at 3 a.m. to get in line. The two Cronuts she is buying are a treat for her husband to mark the couple's eighth wedding anniversary.

“I am the idiot, I read online that people were arriving at three ... The others started to arrive at five. It's my eighth year anniversary, I thought it would be nice for my husband.”

Just behind Amaral in the line stood Steven Go, a chef who arrived from his home in Staten Island shortly after 5 a.m., at the behest of his wife. Justin Gorder, a 30-year-old salesman, traveled an hour from New Jersey.

Irvin, a trader, bashfully admitted he should already be at work. Gina, meanwhile, arrived in a taxi at 6:30 a.m., clutching her 4-month-old baby.

To satisfy the largest possible number of customers, patrons are restricted to two Cronuts each. At first, customers could snaffle six at a time, but Ansel restricted it to two after discovering the Cronuts he sold for US$5 each were changing hands on the Internet at up to US$50 a piece.

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A Cronut sits on a plate at Ansel's bakery in New York, Friday.

(AFP)

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