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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

At last, the cronut, er, doughssant

Posted By on 08.07.13 at 01:56 PM

It's got layers like a croissant and filling like a Bismarck.
  • Aimee Levitt
  • See? It's got layers like a croissant and filling like a Bismarck.
Back in June, the cronut arrived in Chicago, or, rather, in Chicagoland, at Gür Sweets Bakery in Elmhurst. But city bakers were determined not to be outdone, and by the middle of July, there were variations on the doughnut/croissant hybrid at Alliance Bakery, La Boulangerie, Glazed and Infused, and West Town Bakery & Diner. It was indeed an embarrassment of riches, which might explain why, now that the initial rush is over, you can simply walk into one of these establishments and buy yourself a cronut, or croughnut, or doughssant, or whatever name the pastry makers had adopted since Dominique Ansel, the New York baker responsible for the original incarnation, had trademarked the name "cronut." And also why there is no thriving Craigslist trade involving eager young people willing to purchase and deliver cronuts for a modest 500 percent markup.

But for all that is being written about the presence of cronuts in the city, there's been very little about how they actually taste.

This is not a comprehensive survey of cronuts in Chicago. After sampling the doughssant at the West Town Bakery & Diner, I have fully satisfied my curiosity. The doughssant, incredibly, combines the worst qualities of croissants and doughnuts. Which is kind of astonishing, really, because I never realized croissants and doughnuts had bad qualities. I mean, obviously, some are better than others, but when deep frying or large quantities of butter and sugar are involved, it's really hard to go wrong.

But somehow they did. The exterior of the doughssant tastes of neither butter nor sugar, but of cooking oil. Perhaps it had been sitting out too long, but since it was only 10 AM, this didn't say much for its shelf life.

Doughssants in their natural habitat

That was OK, though, compared to the interior. Nothingness was better than the oddly bitter coffee-cream cheese filling. (And, in retrospect, an unlikely mix of flavors. Cream cheese goes on bagels, which are eaten as a complement to coffee, not in the coffee itself.) West Town Bakery also offers doughssants in blueberry lavender and chocolate raspberry. Maybe those are better. Or maybe you could just get a croissant. And a doughnut. And, if you must, some blueberry jam.

It's so sad when a ridiculous food trend turns out to be nothing at all. On the bright side, though, if you feel like waiting in long lines for food, there's still Hot Doug's and the Doughnut Vault, God bless 'em.

Here's what became of our doughssant:

West Town Bakery & Diner, 1916 W. Chicago, 703-904-1414, westtownbakery.com

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