Since the Cronut craze began, every media outlet has run a story on Dominique Ansel and his unique doughnut-croissant hybrid, including us.
But who you don't hear much about is Chef Alina Eisenhauer, who has been serving a nearly identical dessert to the Cronut — called the "Dosant" — at her Sweet Kitchen & Bar in Worcester, Mass. since 2008. And despite beating Ansel to the punch by several years, Eisenhauer is still too humble to take credit for being the inventor of the dessert, because she's sure that somebody, somewhere, has had the bright idea to deep-fry croissant dough before either of them.
READ: Six of the Most Outrageous Doughnuts in America
We had the chance to catch up with Eisenhauer to discuss her Dosants, and how she feels about all the "dough" Ansel's been making since the recent Cronut craze. Read on to see what Eisenhauer has to say, and if you're feeling extra ambitious, check out her recipe for chocolate Dosants under the interview:
FNM: How did you come up with the Dosant? What inspired you?
I was constantly looking for creative ways to use the scrap dough that resulted from my hand-rolled croissants, and during a late night baking session, in a point near exhaustion, I joked that the best place for the scraps was the deep fryer. So, I added a sliver of chocolate before tossing it into the fryer, and after dusting with sugar, my "Dosant" was born.
The Dosants were so popular that I started making croissant dough just for the Dosants, no longer relying on scraps. And when I opened Sweet Kitchen & Bar in 2008, they were one of the first items on the menu — regulars nicknamed the treat "French Donuts."
FNM: What are your favorite Dosant fillings?
I really enjoy our classic version with a piece of chocolate in the middle, but during the fall I make a seasonal flavors, including peanut butter-filled Dosants with Concord grape coulis for dipping, which I love.
FNM: You say you’re not the inventor of the croissant/donut hybrid, despite serving these French Donuts since 2008. Why is that?
It's an educated guess … croissants and croissant dough has existed in France for hundreds of years, so I highly doubt I am the first person who ever thought to try frying it.
FNM: Do your Dosants differ from the Cronuts we’ve been hearing about lately, and how so?
The major difference is in the shape. When I first came up with Dosants, they were small and round like donut holes and have since evolved into small rectangles similar to beignets. Chef Ansel’s Cronuts are the shape of a donut with a hole in the center.
FNM: How do you feel about the Cronut craze and Dominique Ansel’s massive success?
I find it amusing that people are acting like he invented the wheel, and I think it just goes to show that if you're in the right location at the right time and get media buzz, it makes all the difference.
FNM: Why do you think Cronuts took off like crazy when Dosants were already a thing?
Dosants have been popular at my restaurant since I opened, but I am not in New York and do not have the same exposure [or] the same opportunity for food critics, food editors, etc. to walk in and discover my creations. He was at the right place at the right time and had a delicious product.
FNM: Got any other signature desserts on the horizon?
I am always playing in the kitchen and always creating. Special desserts and signature creations routinely make appearances on our menu and I always post them on social media: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I am just a few weeks away from moving my restaurant to a beautiful new location with a 1,600-square-foot chef's dream kitchen, so you can be sure there are lots of new things in the works.
(Sweet Kitchen & Bar)
Chocolate Dosants from Sweet Kitchen & Bar
- 2 cups lukewarm whole milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- 2 tablespoons instant (rapid rise) yeast
- 5 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1-1/4 bars (3.5 ounces) good quality dark chocolate (I like Greeen & Blacks, Lindt or Sirius)
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
To make the croissant dough, combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl once if necessary. Mix on medium speed for 4 more minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured cookie sheet. Lightly flour the top of the dough and wrap well with plastic so it doesn’t dry out. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, cut the cold butter lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Arrange the pieces on a piece of parchment or waxed paper to form a 5-1/2-inch to 6-inch square, cutting the butter crosswise as necessary to fit. Top with another piece of parchment or waxed paper. With a rolling pin, pound the butter with light, even strokes. As the pieces begin to adhere, use more force. Pound the butter until it’s about 8 inches in width and length, and then trim the edges of the butter. Put the trimmings on top of the square and pound them in lightly with the rolling pin. Refrigerate while you roll out the dough.
The next step is to laminate the dough. Unwrap and lay the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a 10-inch square. Brush excess flour off the dough. Remove the butter from the refrigerator — it should be pliable but cold. If not, refrigerate a bit longer. Unwrap and place the butter on the dough so that the points of the butter square are centered along the sides of the dough (picture a butter diamond laid atop a square of dough). Starting in one corner, fold one flap of dough over the butter toward you, stretching it slightly so that the point just reaches the center of the butter. Repeat with the other flaps . Then press the edges together to completely seal the butter inside the dough. (A complete seal ensures butter won’t escape.)
Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough. With the rolling pin, firmly press the dough to elongate it slightly and then begin rolling instead of pressing, focusing on lengthening rather than widening the dough and keeping the edges straight.
Roll the dough until it’s 8 by 24 inches. If the ends lose their square shape, gently reshape the corners with your hands. Brush any flour off the dough. Pick up one short end of the dough and fold it back over the dough, leaving one-third of the other end of dough exposed. Brush the flour off and then fold the exposed dough over the folded side. Put the dough on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 45 minutes to relax and chill the dough.
Repeat the rolling and folding, this time rolling in the direction of the two open ends until the dough is about 8 by 24 inches. Starting with a short end, fold the dough in thirds again, brushing off excess flour and turning under any rounded edges or short ends with exposed or smeared layers. Cover and freeze for another 20 minutes.
Give the dough a third rolling and folding. Put the dough on the baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap, tucking the plastic under all four sides. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, unwrap and lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough. With the rolling pin, "wake the dough up" by pressing firmly along its length — you don’t want to widen the dough but simply begin to lengthen it with these first strokes. Roll the dough into a 12 inch x 16 inch rectangle (with the 12-inch side running lengthwise across the top). If the dough sticks as you roll, sprinkle with a little flour. Once the dough is about half to two-thirds of its final length, it may start to resist rolling and even shrink back. If this happens, fold the dough in thirds, cover, and refrigerate for about 10 minutes; then unfold the dough and finish rolling. Lift the dough an inch or so off the table at its midpoint and allow it to shrink from both sides — this helps prevent the dough from shrinking when it’s cut. Check that there’s enough excess dough on either end to allow you to trim the ends so they’re straight, and that the dough is 12 inches x 16 inches. Trim the dough.
Lay a yardstick or tape measure lengthwise along the top of the dough. With a knife, mark the top of the dough at 3-inch intervals along the length (there will be 4 sections in all). Position the yardstick along the side of the dough (height-wise). Mark at 4-inch intervals top to bottom (there will be 4 sections ton all). Cut the Dough into pieces as marked.
Lightly brush the bottom half of each piece with egg wash. Place 3 squares of chocolate in the center of the bottom half of each piece of dough making sure that there is at least a 1/4-inch border on all sides. Fold each piece of dough over its chocolate and gently press the down on the edges.
Place the Dosants on a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Set aside at room temperature (not above 75 degrees) and proof for 30 minutes or until puffed, although not doubled, in size.
Fry Dosants in 350 degree canola oil for 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Place Dosants three at a time into a paper lunch sack, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, close the bag and shake to coat.
Enjoy while still warm.